In Bulgaria one of the most important holidays (the same level as Christmas eve) is Easter. Bulgaria is an Orthodox Country. Our Easter is different than the one in England. The Bulgarian Easter is on a different date depending on the first full moon after the spring equinox. This year Easter falls on the 8th, 9th and 10th of April.
An interesting tradition we have in Bulgaria is that on Easter we exchange decorated eggs, unlike the UK where the exchange is with chocolate eggs. So the blog today will be about How to decorate eggs for Easter – Bulgarian Style.
To decorate the eggs you need:
Colour dye (specifically for eggs)
Cups, jars or bowls
A cloth, paper towels or kitchen paper
I bought an egg colouring kit full of different options for decorating the eggs. From left to right: stickers to put on the eggs after you have coloured them, five colours of drop dye, six colours of pill dissolving dye, an eraser pen to draw on already coloured eggs and a crystal powder which you use to boil the eggs with, so they will be left with sparkly crystals on top.
First Step is boiling the eggs. You should put the eggs in a big pan with water covering the top. The estimated time for boiling the eggs is 20 minutes. The gas mark was halfway through, so the eggs will boil slowly. After the eggs have been boiled you don’t need to wait for them to cool off. If you are able to take them out of the water as soon as you can, then do so, and get ready to colour them. The ones on the left are the eggs with crystal powder. However, these ones you have to leave to cool off in the water, so the crystals will get stuck to the eggs. Unfortunately, this was the only thing that did not work for me this year, because I was in a hurry and didn’t leave them long enough to cool off.
Getting your table ready for decorating the eggs. As seen in the picture above I have used a mix of cups and bowls (I found those in Sainsbury’s for around 3 pounds for each of the sets – bowls and cups). For each of them you need a spoon with which you will be handling the egg. Next step is to put two or three spoons of vinegar in each cup. Add Hot water to it. Then you need to put the dye inside. In my case the dyes looked like pills and I only needed to put each pill inside a bowl and it got dissolved. It is not a good idea to open the pill because it will colour your fingers and it is very likely to waste the colour powder.
Next step is dyeing the eggs. It is a Bulgarian tradition to colour the first egg red. This is because, in the past, people have coloured the eggs only in red. In later years the use of other colours have been implemented. So back to what you need to do. Normally I put one egg in each bowl, so I can have one from each colour. When you are satisfied with the colour of the egg you should take it out from the dye using gloves. You should hold the egg with two fingers, so you wouldn’t remove the dye and leave it on a cloth or kitchen paper to dry as seen in the picture bellow.
Next is making the multi coloured eggs. What you need for multi coloured eggs is a sheet of cotton or a kitchen paper (I prefer cotton). To keep the table safe from the colour, you need to put a plastic bag underneath. In my case, I used food bags. You can choose the colours and patterns you want to have.
What I love doing is to start with red and yellow. However, sometimes the yellow dye is not very strong (it depends on the brand) so it might be better to use orange. The end result will still be a red and yellow egg. I don’t do any specific patterns but just randomly put each of the colours in different spots. Once you have put your pattern on the cotton it is time to put the egg in the middle. After that you need to close the cotton around the egg. For better results try to squeeze the cotton as tightly as possible around the egg, so it will colour better. There is no specific time that you need to leave the egg for. However, the more you leave it for, the stronger colour you will get. If there is an estimation of how much time you need I would say around 4 minutes.
Sometimes when you open the cotton, you might not be happy with the result. What you can do is cover the egg again and leave it for longer. Or you can actually put more of the dye on the cotton sheet. Sometimes if the cotton sheet is not big enough it might not colour the egg on the top. What you can do in this case is just to turn the egg around and leave it on top of the coloured cotton. Waiting a few minutes should do the trick. After that you can use the same cotton for a few more eggs. If you like, you can always change it after every egg.
What you do after colouring the eggs is to let them dry properly and then use a cloth and oil to make them shiny. The tradition of colouring the eggs happens on the Thursday or the Saturday before Easter. It is a custom to decorate them during the day. On Easter Sunday we use the eggs to battle each other. What you do is hold the egg you have chosen in your fist with only the top or the bottom showing. Your opponent should get their egg and knock the top or the bottom respectively. Whoever has the egg with no cracks is the winner.
And here are my eggs from this year: