The Long Journey of the Decorated Egg

Halnya Mudryi decorated these pysanky eggs. Pysanky comes from the Ukrainian word, “pysaty,” which means “to write.” Pysanky are intricately decorated Ukrainian eggs with symbols. The custom dates back over 2,000 years. (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun)

This probably isn’t the holiday weekend you had imagined, or that you’re used to. At this stage, most of the world is practicing social distancing, isolation and/or quarantine.

But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to enjoy this holiday. and help spread some joy

While it seems that we have little to celebrate these days,  I want to celebrate the coming of Spring and the transformations we are experiencing,  I wanted to give everyone a small ebook that I published last year – The Egg of Many Cultures:  Transforming a Celebration of the Rites of Spring to Easter


Ostrich egg painted with red lines. Punic artwork found at the Villaricos necropolis in Cuevas del Almanzora (Province of Almeria, Andalusia, Spain), and dated between 6th and 4th centuries BC (Iron Age II). National Archaeological Museum of Spain (Madrid).

Ostrich egg painted with red lines. Punic artwork found at the Villaricos necropolis in Cuevas del Almanzora (Province of Almeria, Andalusia, Spain), and dated between 6th and 4th centuries BC (Iron Age II). National Archaeological Museum of Spain (Madrid).


For thousands of years, the egg has been a powerful and ancient symbol of rebirth and the Spring Equinox  Today,  most historians believe that thespringtime practice of decorating and coloring eggshells has its roots in ancient pagan culture.  

Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, and pre-dynastic Egyptian cultures all celebrated the return of Spring.  These cultural relationships probably influenced early Christian and Islamic cultures in those regions, as they were spread through trade, religion, and political links from the areas around the Mediterranean.

Civilizations worldwide have created rituals to celebrate a fertile spring, a time of renewal, regeneration and resurrection. Newer legends blended folklore and Christian beliefs and like the holiday of Easter itself, the art and craft of decorating eggs with different colors has also evolved over time.

60,000 year old engraved ostrich eggshells have been discovered in South Africa , decorated with engraved hatched patterns. There is evidence that, even in ancient Roman culture, eggs decorated with vegetable dyes using onion skins, beets, and carrots were given as gifts during the spring festivals.

In Persia and present day Iran, the celebration of the New Year, incorporates colored eggs as part of the ceremonial Nowruz table. This 13-day spring festival falls on or around the vernal equinox in March and is believed to have originated in modern day Iran as part of the Zoroastrian religion. 

The book shows how the cultural traditions have merged and evolved over several thousand years of  history — this is a  book to enjoy with your family.

just send an email to

publications@humanities-exchange.org

 . . .and I will send it to you. It is 9.5 Mb (about 60 pages) so I will have to send it via We-transfer.

As always, my very best wishes, and stay safe!

Shirley Reiff Howarth, Editor


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