Egg Decorating Around the World
Posted on: September 29th 2021
Decorating Easter eggs is a beloved tradition for countries around the world. In fact, the custom of painting decorative eggs dates back hundreds of years. Over time, many cultures have developed their own take on decorative egg styles and ways to turn their Easter eggs into pieces of art.
Learning more about Easter eggs around the world can help you understand different cultures’ traditions and give you more decorating ideas for your own eggs. We’ll take you on a trip from Belgium to the United States for fun facts and the beautiful Easter egg decorating traditions these countries practice.
Easter Egg Decorating Around the World
Cultures all over the globe recognize Easter as a time of rebirth. As the winter chill begins to thaw and spring returns, people find different ways to celebrate the season. These differences are most evident in the various Easter egg traditions different countries hold, from the unique Easter egg designs to how the eggs are used after they’ve been decorated.
Check out how these 20 countries decorate their Easter eggs to get some extra inspiration for your Easter festivities:
In Belgium, Easter eggs are often dyed naturally with red onion skins, which can be used to produce vibrant shades of red, pink, orange, purple, and green. Dying Easter eggs naturally first involves boiling the ingredients — the longer the ingredients are boiled, the richer the resulting color will be. After boiling, the materials are strained using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth, and vinegar is added to the remaining liquid to finish the dye.
According to Belgian tradition, leaves are used to create a unique design on each egg after it’s been dyed. Using natural dyes and leaves for egg art produces a simple, yet charming design that’s sure to appeal to naturalists and minimalists alike.
Once the eggs have been dyed, an Easter egg hunt is held in nearly every Belgian neighborhood on Easter Sunday and the following Monday. If you happen to be in Brussels over Easter, make sure you check out the Forest’s Egg Hunt in Stardust Park, the Uccle’s Egg Hunt at Wolvendael Park, and the Belvue Museum egg hunt, which takes place indoors.
Typically, Easter egg design art in Bulgaria features a mix of paint, herbs, and wax.
People paint the eggs with bright and bold colors before decorating them with herbs and wax. The herbs are often used as a stencil to produce an intricate, naturalistic design on the eggs, while the wax is used to shave pieces of crayon to produce various patterns.
According to tradition, the first egg that is decorated must be painted entirely red, then rubbed on the cheeks and foreheads of all the children of the house. Then, the red egg is left at the front of the house for the year. After a year goes by, the egg is cracked open to predict the household’s luck — if the egg is dry, they’ll have good luck, but if it is rotten, the family’s luck will be rotten as well.
Canadians usually approach Easter egg decorating similarly to Americans. Like the United States, Canada has long held the tradition of dying Easter eggs fun colors and indulging in chocolate and candies over the Easter holiday. Canadians also enjoy trading their freshly decorated Easter eggs with family members and friends.
Canada dwarfs the United States when it comes to Easter egg decorating because the country is home to the biggest Easter egg in the world. Known as the Vegreville, this giant egg is situated in Alberta, Canada, and is decorated in a breathtaking Ukrainian style.
Easter eggs made in Croatia truly stand out thanks to their beautifully bright colors and incredibly detailed designs. In fact, Croatian Easter eggs feature such magnificent details that they tend to look like tiny murals on hard-boiled eggs.
Usually, a Croatian creator gives their Easter eggs as gifts to their loved ones, especially to young children or a significant other.
More recently, painters from the Croatian region of Podravina have begun a new tradition of decorating giant Easter eggs — about 6 feet tall — to portray picturesque scenes of village panoramas and country living. These massive Easter eggs then get placed in busy city squares for people to admire. These giant egg exhibits quickly gained popularity, and can now be found all over Croatia along with some other European cities during the Easter season.
5. Czech Republic
Easter eggs from the Czech Republic can only be described as ornate. Using a combination of dyes and wax, the Czech people hand-decorate each Easter egg with care. Wax is applied to each egg before it is dipped in dye to produce a distinct pattern underneath the color. Oftentimes, the egg goes through several stages of dyeing to add more shades of color and give the design more nuance.
Common designs for Czech Republic eggs include floral and geometric patterns, along with religious symbols to celebrate the Easter season. Czech decorative eggs may also depict designs that look like church windows, human figures, or animals.
One of the most extraordinary egg decorating techniques from the Czech Republic involves hollowing out eggs and then wrapping thin, neatly latticed wire around the shell to create a complex design. Sometimes beads are added to top off this sophisticated style of egg decorating. The beautifully designed Easter eggs are then exchanged as a symbol of friendship, love, and new beginnings.
In France, Easter eggs are a key component of the springtime holiday. For their Easter egg designs, France is known for wrapping flowing lines of French script around their eggs. However, the main highlight of Easter eggs for the French is eating them. In the town of Bessieres, a giant omelet of about 15,000 eggs is made each year, and the whole town comes together to celebrate and feast.
France also uses their Easter eggs to put on egg hunts for the children. Early in the morning, the children search around their gardens and houses for Easter eggs. Later, they participate in an egg rolling contest to see which egg can make it down the slope fastest without breaking. The winning egg is said to symbolize the stone that was rolled away from Christ’s tomb.
German Easter eggs are usually decorated with traditional pastel colors to represent the soft beauty of spring and rebirth.
Instead of German children searching for eggs scattered throughout a field or garden, an egg hunt in Germany is centered around finding a single tree overflowing with Easter eggs hanging from its branches. These ornately decorated Easter trees are known as osterbaum.
Like France, Germany participates in egg rolling competitions to see whose Easter egg can make it down the hill fastest. Germans also partake in other Easter festivities like egg smashing to see whose egg can withstand the blows and whose egg cracks under the pressure. Easter eggs are handed out as gifts, similar to giving a crush a card on Valentine’s Day.
Greek Orthodox tradition involves dyeing Easter eggs a dark, striking red, rather than any soft, sweet pastel colors. This deep red is most likely to represent the blood of Christ at the time of his crucifixion and eternal life after death. These red-dyed hard-boiled eggs are called kokkina avga and are used to decorate a traditional Greek Easter dish of sweet yeast bread known as tsoureki.
Easter egg hunts are not as common in Greece. Instead, Greeks of all ages engage in a game called tsourgrisma on Easter. In this game, everyone taps the end of their Easter egg against the eggs of their friends and family to try and crack their opponent’s shell. The owner of the egg that remains uncracked wins the game and is predicted to have a year full of luck.
In Italy, Easter eggs are either hard-boiled and dyed — traditionally red to symbolize Christ’s blood — or made of chocolate. Chocolate Easter eggs have taken over Italy as the most popular decorated eggs and Easter gift to give a loved one. Italian chocolate manufacturers offer a variety of decorated chocolate eggs, from solid milk chocolate eggs to hollowed-out chocolate egg shells containing an elaborate gift.
Along with chocolate eggs, Italy holds many other Easter traditions dear. Most of which revolve around family get-togethers and festive town gatherings. One common Italian Easter activity is the Palio dell’Uovo or “Racing of the Egg,” which is an Easter egg rolling contest.
Japanese Easter egg decorating is unique because it involves using paper, as opposed to dye. Specifically, Japanese Easter egg designs include washi paper, which is a fibrous, typically hand-processed material used for making origami, prints, clothing, and more. Washi paper usually features colorful and intricate designs of flowers, birds, or other traditional Japanese imagery, which results in highly detailed and aesthetically pleasing Easter ornaments.
To create these beautiful masterpieces, Japanese Easter egg artists first hollow out the eggs, then wrap them in folded washi paper using glue. Finally, the egg is covered in a varnish sealer to preserve the design. While wrapping the fragile eggshell in washi paper is a time-consuming and delicate process, it is well worth the magnificent work of art it produces.
Lithuanian Easter egg decorating uses a hand-painted method that involves dipping the tips of needles and other sharp objects into hot wax to create intricate patterns on the egg’s shell.
After the wax hardens, the egg is dipped into colorful dye. Once the egg has dried, it is heated and pressed gently with paper or towels to get rid of the wax and reveal the underlying pattern.
Lithuania also holds the tradition of the Velyke or the “Easter Granny,” who distributes the Easter eggs. According to legend, helper bunnies decorate the Easter eggs, then load them into the Easter Granny’s cart. However, the Easter Granny only gives Easter eggs to the good children — bad children get one plain white egg.
Mexico celebrates Easter with the festive tradition of cascarones. Cascarones are hollowed-out eggs filled with confetti or a small toy. In this sense, cascarones are like mini pinatas. The outside of the eggs is dyed in vibrant colors and covered with brightly colored tissue paper to hide the hole made for hollowing.
After being filled and decorated, the confetti-stuffed eggs are cracked over people’s heads to shower them with confetti. It is also said that cracking cascarones over someone’s head brings good luck.
The tradition of painting Easter eggs in Romania stretches back hundreds of years. Romanian decorated eggs oftentimes feature complicated traditional motifs that are specific to each historical region of the country. These designs are intricate and beautiful, incorporating colors that have certain meanings, such as red for Christ’s blood and love, along with various symbols, such as the cross.
These delicately decorated eggs are always placed on the table for Easter, then used for egg tapping competitions. According to Romanian tradition, people who knock painted eggs with each other on the first day of Easter will reunite after death. The first person who taps the egg says, “Christ has resurrected,” while the second person responds, “Indeed, he has resurrected.” Allegedly, the person whose egg remains unbroken will enjoy a longer life.
Russian decorated eggs are incredibly detailed, bejeweled works of art known as Faberge eggs. Easter eggs decorated Faberge style may be the most famous type of Easter eggs in the world due to the elaborate and ornate designs.
These egg-shaped masterpieces are made using gems, precious metals, and other materials.
If a Faberge egg looks fit for a king, it’s because it is. In 1885, these gem-crusted Easter eggs were first commissioned to be made for Czar Alexander III to give to his wife, Maria. Between 1885 and 1916, the Russian royal family had 50 marvelous Easter eggs created for them out of semi-precious stones and diamonds. These eggs are called the Imperial Eggs and can be seen on display at the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg.
Although you might not be able to make an Easter egg layered with expensive jewels, you can still make your own version of a Faberge egg at home. Use simple crafts supplies like gold paint, glittery ribbons, loose jewelry pieces, and hot glue to produce a crown-worthy faux Faberge egg.
Slovakia is where the art of covering an Easter egg with knotted wire was first developed. The technique calls for a considerable amount of skill because it requires the artist to roll strong copper or beekeeper’s wire around a fragile, hollowed-out egg to create mesmerizing spirals, scales, or chains. The Easter eggs then receive more decorations like wool, leather, and lace, which stand for renewal and the continuing of life.
If you’re not a fan of food coloring, Slovenia is the perfect place to make Easter eggs for you. The Slovenian strategy for dying Easter eggs involves tying flowers or plant sprigs to an egg and boiling them with onion skins to naturally color them an earthy red.
While the onion skins dye the eggs’ shells, the sprigs leave the eggs with a lovely floral print.
Although this natural dyeing technique is the traditional Slovenian method of coloring Easter eggs, artificial dye has become more common in Slovenia as a way to achieve a colorful bunch of Easter eggs more quickly. Still, many Slovenian households follow the all-natural dyeing practices that make Slovenian Easter eggs stand out.
17. South Africa
South Africa also tends to use organic materials to dye their Easter eggs naturally. However, colored eggs are less common in South Africa because their Easter eggs tend to be of the candy variety. Instead of hiding the eggs and hosting egg hunts, South Africans trade their Easter eggs with each other.
South Africa is most well-known for its famous Diepkloof egg, which is an engraved ostrich shell from 60,000 years ago that was found at an archeological site. Researchers view the recovered fragments of the engraved egg as the earliest evidence of a graphic tradition for a prehistoric hunter-gatherer population.
The Swiss get into the festive Easter spirit by dyeing eggs bright colors to match the newly sprouting spring flowers. Children in Switzerland often use natural materials like roots, leaves, and blossoms to give their Easter eggs fun patterns. Because Easter is all about the celebration of new life in Switzerland, the Swiss put their brightly colored decorated eggs around their wells, which they view as a source of life.
Ukraine is most famous for its Easter tradition called pysanky, which involves giving eggs as gifts after carefully decorating the Easter eggs to match the receiver’s personality. Pysanky takes place throughout the final week of Lent and uses only the smoothest and most perfectly shaped eggs for decorating.
To make the beautifully decorated Easter eggs, Ukrainians use a wax-resist batik method that involves drawing on the eggs before dyeing them. These iconic Easter eggs are recognizable for their bright, bold, floral, or geometric patterns that are offset by a black or dark background.
This color scheme sets Ukrainian Easter eggs apart from other Easter eggs from around the world.
Many designs painted onto Ukrainian Easter eggs delicately weave in traditional folk motifs, making the decorated eggs a prime example of Ukrainian folk art. In celebration of this form of folk art, there is a museum dedicated to Ukrainian decorated eggs in Kolomyia, Ukraine.
20. United States
Each Easter, children across the United States eagerly participate in dip-dyeing pastel-colored hard-boiled eggs. After the eggs have been colored, the kids continue decorating their eggs with basic art supplies like wax crayons and stickers. American children also participate in Easter egg hunts for plastic eggs filled with candy or small prizes. According to tradition, these eggs are hidden by the Easter bunny.
The White House also has a special Easter tradition. Each year at the White House Easter Egg Roll, the president is presented with a new Easter egg design. Those who attend the event can even get their Easter egg signed by the president.
Decorate Eggs From Sauder Eggs This Easter
Clearly, there are as many ways to decorate Easter eggs as there are countries on the map. Whether you want to try dyeing your eggs naturally or decorate them with sparkly gems, you can find an Easter egg design that suits your tastes. Or, try combining a few different international customs to create your own unique Easter egg decorating tradition.
If you’re feeling inspired by Easter eggs from around the world, it’s time to stock up on eggs and get decorating! Purchase Sauder Eggs to ensure you get farm-fresh and dependable eggs for your decorating session. At Sauder Eggs, we partner directly with farmers to bring you the freshest eggs possible so you can be confident you’re using high-quality eggs.
Check out our online store locator to find the market with Sauder Eggs closest to you today.