FEATURED: Easter In Croatia

Croatian Giant Easter Eggs Have made a home throughout Europe

Croatian Giant Easter Eggs
Have made a home
throughout Europe

For me, Easter means the time of the greatest of joys, the time of new life and new hopes, the time of (nature) awakening, possibly new decisions, positive thinking and beautiful traditions that confirm where I come from and who I am. It is like that for most people in Croatia; an opportunity to gather the family and remember that love keeps us together. It is like that in every country celebrating Christianity and every country has its own special “little” things of culture and tradition that make is distinct.

Home dyed Easter Eggs

Home dyed Easter Eggs

One of the things that mark Croatian Easter tradition is definitely home made dyed eggs. In Croatia, they are called pisanice (literally translated into English: written upon). This Slavic egg decorating custom dates back to pagan times. Almost every home has their own home-dyed eggs and when visiting your friend’s or family house during Easter time, it’s tradition to bring some of your home made dyed eggs. Then they are exchanged and brought home as a souvenir from every visit.

tapping Easter eggs CroatiaOn Easter day, a traditional game is played in which at least two people choose eggs and hold them vertically while one person lightly taps the end of the other egg with their end, to see whose will crack. Anyone whose egg cracks must choose another and then tap the other person’s egg, and they continue until all the eggs have been used and cracked but the last one. Whoever holds the strongest egg in the end, which has not been cracked, wins.

Croatian Easter Eggs "PISANICE" Designs with hot wax drawing

Croatian Easter Eggs
Designs with hot wax drawing

Eggs are a symbol of spring awakening and new beginnings, new life. The most popular “old-fashioned” way to dye eggs is to boil a pot of water together with a lot of red onion skins, which will give the eggs orange/red colour. The next step is to take each egg and put a clover or parsley leaf on its surface. Here’s where it gets interesting: you secure the leaf not by gluing it to the egg, but by putting everything into nylon tights. You put everything into a pot of boiling water with onion skins and cook. The tights not only secure leaves, but also let the water colour the eggs. Or, if you want striations on eggs then wrap onion skins around the raw egg held by elastic band or kitchen twine before dropping the room-temperature raw egg into boiling water. When they’re done, let them cool, remove the tights and leaves and you’ll get a red egg with leaf print on it; or striations if you boiled them with onion skins tied to them. It’s quite decorative and the process is fun. Another traditional way of decorating Easter eggs is to use hot liquid wax and pencil-like instruments. You need to make sure that eggs are clean and dry. You take wax and melt it, dip your pen into the melted wax and draw different patterns on eggshells. Then you cook them in coloured water- the wax will melt and leave beautiful designs, while the rest of eggs will be coloured. In the end, polish it with some vegetable oil, the colour will be nice and shiny.

Giant Croatian Easter Egg at the Maison de l’Europe in rue des Francs Bourgeois (2014)

Giant Croatian Easter Egg
at the Maison de l’Europe
in rue des Francs Bourgeois

And then, of course, there are those absolutely beautiful Croatian giant Easter eggs that adorn city squares in Croatia and museums throughout Europe – these works of art are always the product of groups of Croatian naïve artists and usually depict cultural, environmental and religious parts of local life.

One of the joyous Easter traditions (especially for children) is egg hunt on the Easter morning. Parents tell the children a rabbit tale: the story of the Easter rabbit who leaves eggs in the garden and chocolates for children. Every Easter morning, they search for eggs and chocolate presents, all excited.

Croatian Easter Cake/Bread

Croatian Easter Cake/Bread

Traditional Croatian Easter Breakfast Blessed at church before eating

Traditional Croatian
Easter Breakfast
Blessed at church before eating

As far as the food is concerned, traditionally ham and eggs are eaten, with radishes, spring onions and horseradish sauce. The day before Easter, Roman Christians go to a late night mass carrying a basket of traditional food (bread, ham, eggs). During the mass, priests bless the food, which are kept for the next morning to eat. An Easter Sunday would not be complete in Croatia without the special, exquisitely tasting Easter cake or Easter bread – a tasty reward after the season of Lent, penance and going without ones favourite or chosen treats as form of fasting. Happy Easter Everyone! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


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