Easter is one of my favorite holidays. Nature is beginning to wake up. First, the song of the birds ushers in the warmer weather, and they perform their spring dances and fill the air with love twills. After them come the daffodils, which look like the sun, brightening gloomy days. And brave white snowdrops shyly poke their heads out of the ground amidst piles of scattered snow.
Spring manages to bring a smile to many faces, a joy to our hearts, despite the news of worldwide tragedies. Perhaps because of them, we need to hold onto a small bit of hope that like nature, the world will thrive again.
As Easter approaches, more and more activity emerges from winter slumber, not only among nature, but also among people. The shelves in shops become like a rainbow, full of smiling bunnies and ducks, gift baskets, and an assortment of sweets. For others, it’s more a time to reunite with loved one, sitting around a table or visiting virtually, to celebrate the holiday and welcome the rebirth of nature.
One of my favorite holiday activities is to make the traditional kozunak bread. What is Kozunak? It’s a sweet-dough bread that is prepared on Easter, something very special in Bulgarian rituals. It looks like the Italian pane bread or the Finnish sweet bread called nisu. You can use walnuts as decorations for the crispy crust of the delicious bread.
Another favorite thing to do is to make colorful eggs. Sure, you can buy an abundance of colors, stickers, and other materials at any store to decorate your Easter eggs. However, when I was a child, I learned how to make my own decorations and colors from my grandmother. She used items from her garden and yard: onion peels, red beets, walnut shells and leaves, and more. To give the eggs a golden or yellowish-brown color, my grandmother boiled them in a decoction with walnut shells. She also used walnut leaves. Rose madder roots will give the eggs a beautiful red color. Coloring eggs this way is a tradition will used in Bulgaria today.
These days, I use a simpler, more creative, environmentally friendly way to decorate Easter eggs. With colored napkins, you can create masterpieces.
How do you do it?
First, you’ll need beautiful napkins, one paintbrush, a small pan, and one or two extra eggs (not to boil or decorate), depending on how many eggs you want to decorate.
- Cut the napkins into small pieces or strips. Use a small paintbrush to apply a thin layer of egg white onto the egg. Then carefully place the napkin onto the egg, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles. Brush another layer of egg white over the top of the napkin to secure it in place. Repeat until the egg is covered in napkin pieces.
- Create a mosaic design by cutting the napkins into small squares of triangles. Apply egg white onto the egg in small sections, then carefully place the napkin pieces onto the egg to create a colorful mosaic pattern. Brush another layer of egg white over the top of the napkins to secure them in place.
- Use napkins to create a tie-dye effect by scrunching up small pieces of the napkin and wrapping them around the egg. Secure the napkin in place with egg white, then use a brush to apply more egg white over the top of the napkin. Repeat with different colors of napkins to create a colorful tie-dye effect.
You can make a theme for your Easter table. I love sunflowers and daisies and made the one in the picture below. The idea is to have fun and create a mood and coziness for everyone.
As I mentioned earlier, my grandmother used walnuts. In my opinion, walnut is a magic tree that has a special place in Slavic traditions. If you want to learn more about walnut and other magical trees, pleas follow our new Kickstarter project that will be launching in early May. The book will talk about Slavic customs and beliefs about tree, it contains 21 magical trees, for a total of 153 pages (print size 8.5 x 11 inches). And lots and lots of colorful pictures and illustrations. The book will follow the same layout as our earlier Herbs book. If you’d like to learn more about other Bulgarian customs, take a look at our book Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore. We have an activity for coloring Easter eggs that you can try with your children.
Wishing you a blessed Easter holiday!