Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and for the next week it will be running parallel with the new series which is all about Family and Friends and if you would like to participate here are the details: Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends
This is the first post by author Patricia Furstenberg and this week shares the history and explanation of the markings on orthodox Easter Eggs which are beautifully decorated.
Orthodox Easter Eggs, folktales, symbolism, traditions culture and history
It was an erstwhile custom that a mother, no matter how elderly or ailing she felt, would take it upon herself to bring food to her lad bided elsewhere as soon as the snow thawed and the first white spring shoots pierced the ground.
A folktale tells that Mary, the mother of Jesus, took it upon herself to visit Jesus in Jerusalem and thus she packed a basket with fresh eggs. It wasn’t much else she could take him, Herod having just increased his taxes, again.
The road was winding through the verdant green hills of Judea and Mary’s heart felt light for each step brought her hither to her son, which she hasn’t seen in a long time. As the morning progressed her own shadow became but a puddle by her feet. Soon enough the basket began feeling heavier and heavier in her work-worn hand and her steps became slower and slower and she felt like her journey to Jerusalem had become a quest for shade. Not many trees were in bloom so as soon as Mary spotted a stream sheltered by a little arbor she quickened her step and stopped to cool and quench her thirst. It was a thirst like she had never felt before. So she looked about and decided to stop for a few moments.
The stream sang and Mary saw a new nest above her head and smiled. Life was precious. The water moved softly over her fingers and, when she removed her hand, a few droplets lingered on her fingers. She brought the hand to her eyes and smiled, a whole life scene embedded in those tiny see-through pearls.
It was a peaceful moment and life’s moments were just like this string of beads following each other on her outstretched hand. Each one connected to the next, stronger together. Filled with love.
But it was time to move along. Before getting up something tugged at her heart and Mary lifted the white cotton fabric that covered the basket to see if the eggs were still in good shape.
A dreadful sight unfolded before her eyes. It was as if the sun had stopped shining, no gurgling from the stream could glide through the air and all proof of life on earth had been stamped out.
The eggs had turned blood red and the Blessed Mother of Jesus understood that the time had come for her son to pay for our sins. But she was first a mother and he was her baby boy and so she wept, Mary did, and as her tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped onto the blood covered eggs they drew patterns, a cross, a star, lines and spirals.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus hang on the cross, she laid the basket at his feet and knelt to pray. Then Jesus spoke and asked her not to cry for Him, but to share those blessed eggs with the people who believe in His resurrection.
This is why on the Orthodox Easter we color boiled eggs in red, we draw patterns on them and we share them with our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, knocking egg against egg and saying: “Christ has risen,” and answer “It is true He has risen.”
The symbolism of the Easter egg
The hard shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ.
The cracking of the egg (through knocking) symbolizes His Resurrection.
The Ritual of coloring Easter Eggs
It is said that coloring Easter eggs is a sacred ritual. The day when one colors the eggs is special and no other activity will take place.
On counting the eggs that are to be colored, one doesn’t begin with one, but with “one thousand”, thus bringing wealth in the house for the remainder of the year.
The paint was already prepared, using different plants for different colors. GREEN – was made from walnut leaves, sweet apple skin. RED came from the leaf of a sweet apple, corn leaves or thyme. A special flower was used for YELLOW. Oregano was used to give the colored eggs a heavenly perfume.
The room where the eggs were painted was also special. No worried or upset person was allowed to step inside and no bad rumors or news of people who just passed away were allowed to reach the ears of the egg-painter.
Easter egg color symbolism
Easter eggs are nowadays colored in a rainbow of shades.
WHITE – means purity
RED – symbolizes the blood of Christ and life
BLUE – symbolizes the sky above, uniting us all
BLACK – means fertility
GREEN – means nature
YELLOW – symbolizes sun and energy
Easter eggs symbolism traditions
Orthodox Easter Eggs Design Symbolism, Traditions
A straight vertical line means life.
A straight horizontal line means death.
A double straight line symbolizes eternity.
A rectangle pattern – symbolizes thought and knowledge.
A sinuous line symbolizes water and purity.
A spiral means time and eternity.
A double spiral symbolizes the connection between life and death.
Cross – symbol for Christianity
A cross with additional small crosses at the end of each arm is a Russian cross.
A star – is called the “shepherd’s star”
A monastery – symbol of Christianity
Other motifs used for decorating Easter eggs: bees, frogs, snakes, lambs, garden tools, fir tree, tulip, wheat.
Other traditions call for all the family members to wash their faces with fresh water on Easter morning, water from a container that holds a red egg and a silver coin. It is believed that the red egg brings good luck, good health, warn off evil spirits and all spells.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Easter eggs’ symbolism and traditions.
You might also enjoy reading:
A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara, Romania
Convents: the Religious Life of Medieval Women
© Patricia Furstenberg 2019
My thanks to Pat for sharing this very interesting explanation behind the beautiful markings on these Easter Eggs.
A small selection of other books (some in Afrikaans) by Patricia Furstenberg
One of the recent reviews for Silent Heroes
Silent Heroes is a thought-provoking story of a Marine K-9 unit serving in Afghanistan. The storyline is graphic and intense, yet, filled with the underlying beauty of the country.
I can not imagine the hours of research Ms, Furstenberg invested in writing such an in-depth book. She crafted every word to evoke the struggles the characters endure. The pacing is excellent. Just when you lose your breath due to the intensity, you are offered a respite through interactions with the elderly, women, and children.
The K-9 members of the unit are equally as important as the humans. Their job is dangerous, deadly, and essential to the survival of all. Each dog’s personality shines through the author’s words.
I learned quite a bit about the history of Afghanistan, and it’s people through the author’s well-crafted story.
This book should be required reading for everyone. I highly recommend this book to fans of fiction, drama, war stories, and history.
Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US
And: Amazon UK
Read more reviews and follow Patricia: Goodreads
Patricia Furstenberg is a multi-genre author, poetess and mother. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about history, art, dogs and the human mind. “Silent Heroes” is her 13th book and her first contemporary fiction novel. So far Patricia wrote historical fiction, poetry and children’s books. All her books have one common denominator, dogs.
What fuels her is her fascination with words and coffee. She is the author of the bestseller Joyful Trouble and a prolific writer working on her next novel already, a historical fiction. Will it feature a dog as well? Only tme will tell. Patricia lives happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.
Connect to Patricia.
My thanks again to Pat for allowing me to share her post, and I hope you will head over to browse through her archives.. thanks Sally.