Asta Zimkus, who is both an artist and the art director at the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont IL, describes Easter egg decorating as an 18th century tradition rooted in Christianity. Lithuania is one of three Baltic countries in northern Europe, with a population of 3 million.
Since there wasn’t a Walgreen’s on every corner selling Easter egg colors, decorators used natural materials, such as tree bark and onion skins; they even used the water from nails rusting in buckets! And vinegar not needed! Knives then were used to etch decorations into the eggs. After 5-7 years the contents of the eggs evaporated, leaving a hollow, decorated egg shell that became a keepsake.
Eggs were regarded as a natural source of life, and became associated with many traditional Lithuanian folkloric customs. When eggs were colored and decorated, they were imbued with additional power and meaning. For example, the color red was believed to protect man from evil spirits. The patterns used to embellish the eggs symbolized the sun, moon, stars, love, devotion, and more.
Asta described egg decorating as an expression of the soul, and likened the calming effect of this craft to yoga and meditation. She said that single women used their Easter egg decorating talents to woo bachelors looking for future brides, by placing their Easter baskets in competition on their front porches on Easter morning, hoping to be selected by the bachelors.
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