The celebration of Easter occurs each year, usually between March 22 and April 25. This celebration has its earliest roots thousands of years ago when our ancestors believed that a goddess was responsible for the return of spring each year. To make sure that the spring goddess returned, people held festivals in her honor. Today, Easter is the name of a religious festival that signifies the rebirth of Christ.
For as long as there has been Easter, there have also been Easter eggs. The egg is seen as a symbol of new life. For thousands of years, it has been the custom to give eggs as gifts at spring festivals. A question often asked by children is, “Why does a bunny bring Easter eggs and not a chicken?” There seems to be two explanations. First, the goddess, Eastre’s, favourite animal was a hare; hence it was believed that a hare delivered her eggs. A second explanation is based upon a legend about a woman who dyed eggs for her children at Easter. She hid them in a nest and when the children found the nest, a big rabbit hopped away. They thought the rabbit brought the eggs, and the story spread.
Easter is a major celebration in the Ukraine. Part of this celebration involves the decoration of eggs. Eggs decorated with plain colors or simple designs are called krasanki. Pysanki are extraordinary, distinctive eggs which may take 6-8 hours to decorate. An old Ukraninan custom involved single women dropping their pysanki into a stream in hopes that the eggs would be retreived by a suitor, for the girls had inscribed their names on the eggs.
The Easter Egg Tree is a custom that has come to us from several European coutries, particularly Germany and the Ukraine: “The Easter egg tree had become a fairly recent tradition in America because of the widespread popularity of Katherine Milhous’s children’s book, “The Egg Tree.” This custom of decorating evergreens or leafless trees with colored eggs had its origin in the years following the Civil War. The older practice of suspending eggs in their natural colors on bushed and small trees outdoors was a custom of earlier date.”
WHERE TO FIND YOUR PERFECT TREE
Although they are sold in stores, if you are looking for one with more personality, I suggest going into the woods and looking around for fallen branches, or perhaps a small tree from your local nursery that you can later plant.
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT EASTER EGG TREE
1 Tree 12 Eggs – raw
1 Planter 6 Toothpicks
1 Block of styrafoam 1 ball string, yarn, or ribbon
1 Green Spray Paint Can 1 Elmer’s glue
1 Gold or Silver Spray Paint Can ** look below under the specific directions for further
1 Package of fake grass supplies needed
Take the green spray paint and color the styrafoam block and inside of the planter.
Once the paint has dried, place the styrafoam within the planter. You may need to shave the block to make it fit……making sure to fill any loose areas with what is left over.
Taking a sharp knife or object punch a hole big enough for the base of your tree to fit into the styrafoam, glueing it into place.
After the glue has dried place some plastic wrap, or newspaper around the planter and styrafoam leaving just the tree exposed. Taking your gold or silver, whichever you chose to use, and paint the tree. Let this coat of paint dry then repeat.
Getting your eggs ready to be decorated.
Taking an egg one at a time, punch a small hole the size of a large pin on either side. Gently blow the yolk out from inside and put aside while you repeat the process with the rest of the eggs.
Decorating. Your children will need to wear clothes you will not mind getting paint on them. All of the below techniques are kid friendly and they will love feeling they had a hand in decorating the tree.
Depending on the method you use, you will need to gather different materials. Below are the most time effecient ways that your children will be able to help you with.
a. Tradition dying
Needed: PAWS coloring kit, that is available in any store that sells Easter supplies
Directions are on box, or if you have food coloring and vinegar sitting around, mix 2/3rd cup vinegar with drops of food coloring until you get the desired brightness. Placing your egg within the mixture, just let soak until the color has set. Setting them on a strainer to dry.
b. Sponge Art
Needed: Sponge, cut into small squares, and different colored paints.
Dabbing the squares into the paint, they are next dabbed onto the egg to make a “ghecho” look. Try mixing up the colors or different layers to create different looks. Again, setting them on a strainer to dry.
Needed: Paint brushes, paints. Let your imagination soar with different shapes, sayings, or collage of colors to bring your egg to life. Same as the other two, you will need to set them on a strainer to dry.
Once the decorated eggs have dried you can now start placing their hangers on them.
Grabbing your toothpicks, carefully break them all in half, to make 12 pieces. Taking the string (or yarn/ribbon) cut off pieces of about six inches in lenght. Tying them around the stick to make a loope, the toothpick is then placed within the hole on the skinny side of the egg.
Hang your eggs sparatically on the branches of your tree. Taking any extra ribbons/yarn and tying them around the extra branches in bows.
Extra birds, butterflies etc., can be purchased at your local craftstore and add a personal touch to your tree.