Dying eggs for Easter is a widespread Christian tradition around the world known from Armenia to Russia, the Mediterranean region and Central Europe. Orthodox Easter is coming up soon in Macedonia, so we took a closer look at who dyed eggs first. Some sources speak of these as being the Christian Macedonians.
It is said they have dyed eggs for Easter as early as the 13th century! This tradition is said to have been brought home, i.e. Western Europe, by Crusaders.
This information is often quoted by one of the largest egg paint manufacturers in the US, named Paas. A PR rep of the company is quoted by various media saying:
The 13th-century Macedonians were the first people to use colored Easter eggs during Easter celebrations. Crusaders returning from the Middle East spread the custom of dyeing eggs, and Europeans then began using colored eggs to mark Easter and Easter celebrating other holidays.
In its article “Czech Egg Decorating”, the Kansas Historical Society also states that the Macedonians were the first Europeans to do so. This is what the article says regarding the Macedonians, quote:
Colored eggs have been a significant part of the Easter celebrations since at least the 15th century. Some references cite colored eggs for Easter in existence as early as the 13th century. Early records give credit to the Macedonians for being the first Christians to use eggs in connection with Easter. It is thought that children brought dyed eggs to the marketplace to be sold.
But who do generally introduced this custom into Europe and generally? It is still debated. The well known online encyclopedia Wikipedia says following:
According to many sources, the Christian custom of Easter eggs was adopted from Persian tradition into the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained them with red colouring “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion”.
The custom was the first time officialized in Rome by the Vatican, again we quote Wikipedia:
The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus, with the Roman Ritual, the first edition of which was published in 1610 but which has texts of much older date, containing among the Easter Blessings of Food, one for eggs, along with those for lamb, bread, and new produce.
When do Macedonians dye eggs?
They are painted and decorated on Maundy Thursday, according to the orthodox calendar. The first one is painted before sunrise, because it is believed that it won’t spoil and that it will last all year if it doesn’t “see” the sun. Housewives dye three eggs in red color in the morning.
With the first egg the housewife draws a cross for health on the face of the children with the words “Red, white, thick” or “Red, white, healthy and alive.” That egg is considered to have protective powers and it is kept in a special place in the house until the next Easter.
The number of painted eggs depends on the number of family members, but eggs are painted and for every guest who will come to the house.
You might read our story: How the Macedonian in Apostle Paul dreams became a ‘man from Macedonia’