Spring is finally coming and so is Eastertime, which is mostly a time for painting Easter eggs which we all look forward to.
Easter, velika noč, takes place on a different date each year, a day between March and April. Easter is on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon. This year it is on Sunday, March 31 2024. Easter Monday, velikonočni ponedeljek, is also a holiday in Slovenia. Eastertime is the biggest Christian holiday, when Christians remember the Resurrection of Christ.
It is all about Easter eggs
On Easter Saturday we usually paint Easter eggs, called velikonočna jajca, pirhi or pisanice (there are several dialectal expressions for them). This can be pretty amusing and creative, especially if we unlock our imagination. We paint them with natural or synthetic colours. Myself, I prefer to use completely natural and healthier colours from various vegetables.
To get a red-brown coloured eggs, we use onion peels (mostly red onion); if we want yellow eggs we can use saffron, turmeric or carrots; for blue eggs we use blueberries; for red eggs we can use beetroot; for black ones we use oak bark; and for green eggs we use spinach.
In Slovenia it is very popular to paint Easter eggs with onion peels, čebulni olupki. It is also quite simple and creative. The easiest recipe is the following: Boil some water and add the red onion peels and raw chicken eggs. Cook all together for about 15 minutes. If you want more intensive color, leave the eggs in water after cooking for as long as you want.
Red is still the most commonly used color for Easter eggs. When I was younger, we painted them red and pasted stickers with Easter motifs on the eggs. Nowadays I prefer to pick some leaves or flowers, and press them on the eggshells. Then I put the eggs in nylon stockings and cook them in water with onion peels. With all these flower patterns the final result can be really amazing.
Famous Slovenian Easter eggs come from Bela krajina, a region in south-east Slovenia. These are called belokranjske pisanice – typical black Easter eggs with beautiful paintings.
An egg, jajce, is a symbol of life, eternity and it represents the cosmos. The Easter Bunny, velikonočni zajček, is a part of Easter, too. It symbolizes fertility. In the spring nature comes to life again, so an egg and bunny are appropriate symbols for that time. Chocolate Easter Bunnies and eggs are present in shops way before Easter (in many cases even in February). In the past, when I was a child, it was a great pleasure to get chocolate eggs for Easter from my grandmas. Sweet and delicious memories…
After a busy Saturday comes Easter, with a traditional Easter breakfast, velikonočni zajtrk (if people attend a Sunday Mass, the breakfast is after the Mass). Typical Easter dishes, that Christians normally carry to church on Easter Saturday to bless them, are Easter eggs (pirhi), horseradish (hren), ham (šunka), bread (kruh) and of course a traditional Slovenian dessert, potica. Easter food is also eaten on Easter Monday or sometimes even later. Easter Monday is also a time for visits.
In the past it was a custom to send real Easter cards to relatives and friends, but nowadays, in a more technological society, these customs somehow faded. Nevertheless, it is still nice to send them and wish Happy Easter, or in Slovenian Vesele velikonočne praznike!