Easter egg designs vary with different cultures

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 March, 1999, 12:00am


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Eggs, a symbol of fertility and new life, have been asso ciated with Easter for centu ries. Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright col ours to represent the sun light of spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.

In medieval times, eggs were given at Easter to the servants. In Germany eggs were given to children along with other Easter gifts.

Different cultures have de veloped their own ways of decorating eggs. Crimson eggs, to honour the blood of Christ, are exchanged in Greece.

In parts of Germany and Austria green eggs are used on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday). Slavic people dec orate their eggs in special patterns of gold and silver.

Austrian artists design patterns by fastening ferns and tiny plants around the eggs, which are then boiled. The plants are then removed, revealing a striking white pattern.

Poles and Ukrainians decorate eggs with simple designs and colours. A number of eggs are made in the distinctive manner called 'pysanki' (to design and to write).

Melted beeswax is applied to a fresh white egg. It is then dipped in successive baths of dye.

After each dip, wax is painted over the area where the preceding colour re mains. Eventually a complex pattern of lines and colours emerges.

In Germany and other countries eggs used for cook ing were not broken - the end of each egg was pierced with a needle and the contents emptied into a bowl.

The hollow eggs were dyed and hung from shrubs and trees during the Easter Week.

Armenians decorate hollow eggs with pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary.