Easter is the greatest Christian holiday celebrated as part of Christ’s resurrection. It is called the feast of feasts because it celebrates the resurrection and eternal life that are the basis of the Christian faith. The earliest may be March 22nd according to the old calendar, and April 4th according to the new calendar. It falls on April 25th at the latest according to the old calendar, and on May 8th according to the new calendar. This means that Easter can be celebrated before the Annunciation, but also after St. George’s Day. The custom of greeting is “Christ is Risen”, and the answer is “Truly He is Risen”.

The custom of painting and knocking eggs, then giving and ritually eating eggs occupies a central place in Easter customs. Easter eggs were a means by which the good mood among people was expressed and it was believed that they also had certain magical properties. In Šumadija, it is customary to paint eggs on Good Friday. The first colored egg, which was mostly red, is separated and stored throughout the year (guardian, housekeeper) and was used for protection against diseases and weather disasters. It was customary to “rub” eggs, rub children’s cheeks with them, wash with the water in which they “spent the night” and all this was done for health reasons. To this day, some social customs have been preserved, such as giving eggs to the family and giving gifts to every guest who enters the house during the holidays, and eggs are also sent as a gift.

Easter eggs are painted and painted most often on Good Thursday and Good Friday. Dyeing eggs is older than carp and sometimes only certain people could do it according to strictly established rules. In the process, it was originally simple to dye with materials that are in the house or around the house, until the appearance of cheap aniline dyes suppressed the older technique of dyeing and painting eggs. In the past, certain types of plants or parts of plants such as leaves, flowers and roots were used to obtain certain colors. To obtain different types of shades of red, ruj, bakam, plum and pomegranate peel, mint, boiled linden and jova bark were used. Yellow color was obtained from various leaves, bark, and roots (onion, corn, nettle) and brown eggs were obtained by painting in walnut. The green color was obtained with the help of nettle seeds and eggplant roots, the blue one with the flower of the horsetail and the bark of the stink bug, and for the black color, which was rare, soot was used.

Motifs that were most often stylized were applied to Easter eggs. The technique of decorating eggs with natural leaves and flowers was very common. The leaves are glued to the egg with oil or egg white, which is then wrapped with some material, and then cooked in the desired color. In Šumadija, strawberry, rose, clover and primrose leaves are used. The patterns on the eggs were performed in different ways. One of them is the so-called batik technique which consisted of covering a surface that should not be painted with a thin layer of wax, and after painting the wax was removed, leaving white patterns. The simplest way of painting with wax is when a piece of wax is heated and dripped on an egg, and the most famous is painting with a special sharalka, which is also called a pen, sharalica and the like. Sharalke can be a pointed tree, a rooster’s feather, a straw, a simple feather, etc. They have two basic parts – a wooden handle and at its end a metal pen that dips in wax or a metal funnel from which heated wax leaks. When painting eggs with wax, various ornaments are made, both religious and geometric, plant and zoomorphic.

In some parts, special ritual breads are prepared for Easter, on which eggs are placed. These breads are distributed to children and everyone who comes to the house to congratulate the holiday.

Violeta Cvetanoska
Senior curator of the National Museum Kraljevo

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