Easter isn’t just a Sunday: it’s a whole season of the church year. The Feast of the Resurrection continues for 50 days. In Russia, an important feast-food is eggs.

I’m a sucker for eggs. No, that doesn’t sound right. Let me rephrase: I really have a weakness for Russian decorated “Easter eggs.” At their best they express in colors and images the joy of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Now, and perhaps already during Soviet times, Russians have something similar to what is common in America: eggs dyed in various colors with flowers and bunnies and other general spring motifs. These secular eggs, however, aren’t part of Russia’s longer tradition.

The plain colored eggs for Easter are red. The dye is made with dried onion skins. I haven’t tried it myself, but people tell me it’s very simple to color eggs this way.

Traditional decorated eggs fall into two general categories. One is Russian folk art and culture. These are done are various colored patterns. Some will have portraits of Russian czars or figures of men and women in traditional Russian garb.

And then there are the eggs that depict aspects of the Christian faith. Some are “oval icons.” On many of them appear the letters ХВ, the abbreviation for “ХРИСТОС ВОСКРЕСЕ,” “Christ is risen!” Some depict Orthodox churches, and these fall somewhere between the folk-art and religious categories of eggs.

In recent years plastic shrink-art for egg decoration has become popular here. These are quite inexpensive and can be found in all the various above-mentioned categories, from general spring to traditional art to Christian and Easter themes. These thin plastic sleeves that mold themselves to the shape of the egg can produce some beautiful results. Here’s a sample of some that Patricia used on ceramic eggs.

Decorated eggs are not only for Easter. Those who have visited Russia know that in souvenir shops they sell some beautiful painted wooden eggs. Back when these were affordable and not heading toward the prices of their upscale Faberge cousins, I began assembling my own collection. Although its growth was curtailed by high prices, I still keep my eyes open for bargains when I travel. Here are a couple I managed to find.

 

For me, Russian decorated paschal eggs keep before my eyes the joy of the Resurrection as nothing else visual can.