electronic Gourmet Guide


Eggs in Courtship (Egg Love!)

by Ian Makay


Faberge egg
Illustration © 1997, Alma Shon

Meanwhile, fertility and vernal festivities were hardly limited to fields and livestock. Courtship rites also spawned creative developments in egg art. Those historical references which exist clearly indicate that decorative Chinese eggs were created by ordinary people as tokens of affection and presented as gifts to potential marriage partners. This was no less true in Europe and in cultures later influenced by European trade and colonization.

Lenten love crops up in Luxembourg on Bretzelsonndeg (Pretzel Sunday). Celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, it marks the day a young man will give a special, ornate, pretzel-shaped cake to the woman he would like to court. If she feels similarly disposed, she responds three weeks later on Easter Sunday with a gift of sweets or a decorated egg. According to practice, the larger the cake, the larger the egg must be. During leap year the order is reversed-she gives the cake and he gives the egg. Married couples can also participate, assuming they pair up with their spouses, I suppose.

Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia all feature unique variations on Easter egg love. In some areas, messages of love are painted onto hard-boiled, colored eggs and given to that special someone one wants to impress, while other communities conceal such amorous notes on slips of paper planted inside hollowed (or blown) decorated eggs. Blown eggs are also at the heart of several folk tales involving the creation of the original decorated Easter egg tree, found, so the legend goes, below the window of a young woman one Easter and decorated with blown eggs during the night by the man proclaiming his love for her.

Faberge egg
Illustration © 1997, Alma Shon

While many of the traditional symbols and lore at the heart of egg art and Easter have been obscured with time and replaced by more commercialized imitations, the craftsmanship so central to its creation has also become increasingly scarce. Fewer artisans, professional or amateur, have invested the time to learn and master the crafts of painting and etching eggs passed down by local virtuosi, now predominantly elderly and too often themselves limited by age. This is no less true of European Easter egg art, than it is of African ostrich egg etching, Middle Eastern and Central European egg beading, or Asian styles of egg lacquering, painting, and sculpture.

Our global view of nature, the seasons, our holy days, and holidays have undergone a sea change, replaced by a new set of personal and societal priorities and concerns. In the process, existence of egg art and the history and meaning behind its varied forms seem, much like the egg itself-resilient, beautiful, strong, yet uniquely fragile. Culinary art has, in many ways, gone through a similar transformation and come out better for it. Like the phoenix, so often associated with it, perhaps the art of egg crafting too will rise from it own ashes and be reborn a wonderful and welcome centerpiece to life's daily and seasonal celebrations.


Egg Art

Also visit the main Easter page. Includes Spring, Easter and Passover recipes, tips, lore and more.

Index of March 1997 electronic Gourmet Guide.

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998. Modified March 2007.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

The Global Gourmet
The Global Gourmet®
Main Page


Spring Recipes for
Easter & Passover

   Clip to Evernote

Bookmark and Share


Twitter: @KateHeyhoe

Search this site:

Advanced Search
Recent Searches


Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Books
Cookbook Profiles
Global Destinations
Holiday & Party Recipes
I Love Desserts
On Wine

Caffeine and You Caffeine and You
cooking kids Cooking with Kids
new green basics New Green Basics

Conversions, Charts
   & Substitutions

About the
Global Gourmet®
   Contact Info
   Privacy Statement

Recent Cookbooks

Cooking Italian
175 Home Recipes
4-Hour Chef
Bakery Cookbook
Barefoot Contessa
Bouchon Bakery
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Cake Mix Doctor
Comfort Food
Craft of Coffee
Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Daily Cookie
Fifty Shades Chicken
French Slow Cooker
Frontera - Rick Bayless
Gluten-Free Quick & Easy
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Kitchen Science
Lidia's Favorite Recipes
Make-Ahead and Freeze
Modern Milkshakes
Modernist Cuisine
Mystic Cookbook
Paleo Slow Cooking
Picky Palate
Pop Bakery
Practical Paleo
Quick Family Cookbook
Sensational Cookies
Smitten Kitchen
Southern Living Recipes
Sweet Life in Paris
Trader Joe's Vegetarian
True Food
Whole Larder

More Cookbooks


Kitchen & Home


Copyright © 1994-2013,
Forkmedia LLC



cat toysCatnip Toys

Kitchen & Home