Coloring eggs for the Easter celebration is a tradition with roots that some historians believe can be traced to ancient Egypt. At least a tradition similar to the modern practice was present in the days of the early Christians who stained eggs red to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. The folk custom of dyeing eggs in festive, bright colors may be an adaptation of pagan fertility and rebirth celebrations. Over time, the Christian Easter celebration is thought to have absorbed festive aspects of local pagan ritual, which celebrated the rebirth of nature in springtime by dyeing eggs in bright colors.
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Gather Your Supplies
You can easily color eggs at home without a kit, with basic supplies that you likely have on hand. You will need:
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- Hard-boiled eggs
- Vinegar (white or apple cider)
- Food coloring
- 3-4 cups or small bowls deep enough to submerge eggs
- Crayons (optional)
- Empty egg carton
- Newspaper and paper towels
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Prepare Your Work Area
Spread newspapers over your work surface. If you plan to draw on the eggs with crayons, assemble the crayon colors you want. The dye will not adhere to the wax, allowing the crayon color to show through. (You can also use rubber bands to create a striped effect.)
Place one teaspoon of vinegar in each container. Add about 1 1/2 cups of hot water (hot tap water is fine) to the vinegar.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
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Add the Food Coloring
Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Ordinary food coloring will do, but you can also buy dyes specifically intended for eggs.
Unusual colors can be created by mixing different food colorings in different ratios. For example, you can create teal by mixing 12 drops of green with eight drops of blue. Just be careful not to wind up with muddy, gray colors. Additionally, the use of strong pigmented spices (like turmeric) and food scraps (from beets and purple cabbage) can also be used to make all-natural dyes.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
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Dip the Eggs
Dip each egg in a dye cup, and allow to sit for several minutes to absorb color. The longer the egg soaks, the deeper the resulting hue. Shorten the dye time to create pastels and lighter shades.
Use a spoon to remove the egg from the dye.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Dry the Eggs
Wipe the water off with a paper towel, and place the eggs in a container, such as an empty egg carton to dry.
Once you've finished drying the eggs, store them in the refrigerator.
Variation with Natural Dyes
Foods and spices with strong pigments also make excellent dyes. These foods work well for coloring eggs:
- Shredded red beets (purple)
- Onion skins (orange or rust)
- Turmeric or chili powder (yellow)
- Spinach (green)
- Red cabbage or grape juice (blue)
Make the dye by chopping or mashing the vegetables and combine with 4-6 cups of water (use 1 tablespoon of spices per cup of water) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every 2 cups of water. Simmer for about half an hour. You can either strain the juice in cheesecloth placed over a strainer or place the eggs directly into the pan with mashed foods.