Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter eggs from Croatia

We have hired a tour guide for our day in Dubrovnik and he has been sending us bits of history and culture about Croatia in response to our interest in learning more before we arrive.  As today is Easter, I thought I would share the pictures and information he sent about "Easter eggs" from his area.  I hope you find it as interesting as we have.

Easter in Dubrovnik presents the spirit of tradition and the Catholic spirit of the people who piously attend celebrations of the Holy Week particularly the ceremonious procession under the Cross on Good Friday, and share gifts such as painted eggs, pinca (a special Easter cake).

During Holy Week eggs are painted in the old-fashioned way typical of the Dubrovnik coastline and Konavle. The painted eggs are characterized by neat and beautiful decoration, written messages and congratulatory messages which are typical of the region. Although the old egg-painting technique seems to be exceptionally complex at first, the experienced women of Primorje and Konavle maintain otherwise. They claim that the more experience you have in painting the eggs the more beautiful they look. The drawings on the raw eggs are made using melted beeswax into which one plunges a needle attached to a piece of wood, most often laurel or grapevine.

The “penica” (penitza) is used for writing the messages. In old times, when the old hearths were still used, women used to hold in their laps bowls with ashes and live coals on which the wax melted in the steady high temperature. Nowadays, the bowls are placed on the cooking stove or on a
special little device with candles that melt wax and make the work easier.

They say that at Easter the first painted egg is given as a present to the person who is dearest to you. It is thus not surprising that the main motif on many of the painted eggs is a heart. Painted eggs were mainly aimed at expressing love and affection, and such a gift often revealed a fancy for someone and hidden feelings. People thus took good care when choosing the person to whom they would present the egg. Particularly valued were eggs painted in red, which symbolized life and nature.

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