Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up. I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration. It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!
My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new. Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.
Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started. Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent. Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice. Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.
Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.
Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell! *grin* Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year! I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens! *grin*
We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs. There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!
Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:
Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil. Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage). Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue. Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove. Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.
Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub! If you rub too much, the color will come off!
Expect a bit of variation with your eggs. I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.
Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window! Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!
I hope ya’ll give this little project a try! I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was. Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!