Happy Easter Egg Decorating!


Lithuanians love Easter. For us it stems from both ancient rites of spring and the great religious celebration of the Resurrection, and is a time of hope and joy marking the end of winter. The most famous and iconic Easter tradition in Lithuania and in the diaspora is the colouring and decoration of Easter eggs. Many methods are described online and at the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute website (see Easter Eggs at ltfai.org).

Using natural materials to colour eggs is always interesting. Common fruit, vegetables and spices can be fun to experiment with for both adults and children. The colours achieved by using vegetal dyes will not be as intense as commercial chemicals. However, following several rules of thumb can produce beautiful results.

White or very pale eggs and the use of an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice will allow strong colours to set best. Both cold and hot colouring methods can be used. Hard-boiled eggs can be placed in dye for a few hours or overnight, or raw eggs can be washed and boiled in water together with the dye ingredient. The recommended boiling time is 10 minutes, after which the eggs can be left in the liquid for a while. Lithuanian sources do not mention how easy these eggs might be to peel… For this reason putting boiled and cooled eggs into the coloured liquid might be the better method.

Another trick is to boil the eggs in salted water. Salt helps keep the eggs from cracking. After dyeing, put the eggs on separate plates lined with paper towels so they are not touching, in order to avoid spotting. Once they are cool and dry, coating the eggs with olive oil gives them a beautiful shine that enhances the colours.

One of the most popular methods our grandmothers used was to dye eggs by wrapping them in onion skins. Taking 2-3 handfuls (or more, for deeper colour) of skins, cover them with water, and boil for 15 minutes. Then add 3 tablespoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and washed raw eggs, boil for 10 minutes. The colour will be stronger if the eggs are left in the liquid overnight.

A lovely blue colour can be attained by using purple cabbage. Chop half of a purple cabbage into chunks, cover with water and boil for 30-40 minutes. Remove the cabbage, add 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the liquid, and add hard-boiled eggs. Leave until the desired colour is achieved, or overnight. Blueberries or beets can also be used in this way. Cover three or four grated or cubed boiled beets in water, allow to stand for 1-2 hours. Add salt and vinegar and hard boiled eggs. For red-coloured eggs, take skins from 1 kilogram of red onions, boil for 15-20 minutes in 1 litre of water, remove skins and add salt and vinegar (3 tablespoons of each). Then boil eggs in the liquid for 10 minutes and leave overnight.

Turmeric is famous for its power as a dye, on eggs as well as hands, aprons and countertops. Mix 4 tablespoons of turmeric, 3 of salt and 3 of vinegar into 1.5 litres of boiling water. Add boiled eggs and allow to steep for about 2 hours.

For pale green eggs, add them to a pot of fresh spinach and parsley that has been brought to a boil. Cover the eggs with the vegetables and boil for 10 minutes. Allow to steep overnight. This will give you a pastel colour. For a deeper green, soak cooked eggs in boiled purple cabbage liquid, then in a turmeric mixture.

Linksmų Velykų! Don’t forget to play the game of egg-tapping. Holding your egg tightly in your fist with just the tip showing, tap another person’s egg to see whose will crack first. The winner is the person left with their egg uncracked. Make sure no one is using wooden or other “fake” eggs!