Easter, the Easter Bunny, and How to Color Eggs with Dyes Made of Herbs
Today the Christians of the world observe Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.
A legend tells that the egg merchant Simon of Cyrene was forced by the Roman soldiers to leave his eggs on the side of the road to help Christ carry the cross. When he returned from Calvary to pick up his eggs, he found that they had been colored and decorated.
Another legend tells about Mary Magdalene. She placed a basket of eggs at the foot of the cross, and the eggs were dyed red with the blood of Christ.
The early Christians of Mesopotamia were the first to use colored eggs at Easter, but the tradition can be traced back to an early rite of spring practiced by the ancient Egyptians and Persians. An egg is a symbol of new life, and that is what we seek when we go hunting for eggs on Easter morning. The term Easter originate in the Old English word E-astre or E-ostre, which was the name of the month of April in earlier times. E-ostre was the name of a Pagan goddess, for whom feasts were held in honor during springtime.
Jacob Grimm, a 19th century scholar, proposed that E-ostre was known as Ostara among the pre-Christian people in continental Europe, and later linguists have identified Ostara with the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, Ausõs or in Latin: Aurora. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring. The goddess would make her earthly appearance in the form of a rabbit; hence the Easter bunny.
In Colonial America the settlers brought with them, from their native countries, the custom of dying eggs, using berries, roots and herbs.
It is easy to use herbs for coloring eggs. Here is how to do it:
First – wash the eggs in mild soapy water to remove any natural waxy coating.
To make the dye you bring water to boil, add dried herbs and white vinegar in the following proportion – according to how many eggs you want to color:
1 cup water
1 tbsp dried herb
1 tbsp white vinegar
Bring water, herbs, and vinegar to a simmer, and let it boil for ca 30 minutes. The longer it boils, the darker it gets.
Add the eggs, which should be at room temperature, and continue heating for 20 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before you place the pot in the refrigerator for the color to deepen. When the eggs have reached the wanted color (remember they look darker wet than dry), remove them from the pot and dry. If you want extra shine, rub the eggs with vegetable oil and buff.
Colors – this is suggestions, experiment with other herbs (or berries/vegetables)
- Yellow: Chamomile
- Green: Rosemary
- Purple: Hibiscus flowers
- Red: Dandelion root
- Brown: Juniper berries or Fennel