Ostara Eggs

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As a first-generation pagan parent, one thing I think about a lot is building traditions. In my house, we celebrate major Christian holidays (as cultural events mostly, but we are super blended and parts of the family are significantly Christian so we talk about the reasons behind them too), commercialized USA holidays (‘cause the 9 year old loves wearing green to school on St. Patty’s day), and the Wheel of the Year. I wrestle with how to highlight the pagan holidays amongst the others, especially when there isn’t much in society outside our house reinforcing them.
Because my children are young, what I decided to do was focus on something tangible: doing a thing that has meaning, but that also has a product the kids will remember making from year to year. Not a whole ritual; just a fun, seasonally appropriate, kid-friendly activity. Which, when I reflect on it, is awfully pagan of me (you know, focusing on the tangible, embodied bits to reach the deeper meaning when each person is ready in their own time).
When my daughter was 6 we first tried dying eggs for Ostara. We used yellow onion skins and flowers and leaves we found on our daily walks (we lived in California at the time). That was three years ago. We’ve kept up the activity: I diligently save the dry skins from onions we use during the year, and each equinox we dye eggs with them. (We now have to buy flowers to make the imprints since northern Minnesota is still snow-bound in late March.)
This year we invited four families to come over and do eggs with us; at 9 years old now my daughter is an experienced egg artist, and she helped me teach her elder step-sister and the children of our friends the art of natural egg dying. Tradition mission accomplished! Not only did my oldest have the experience of being an expert at a cool new craft she got to share with her friends, my baby had his first Ostara with a house full of energy and excitement and lots and lots of pagan-dyed eggs. And that is what holidays with kids are all about: making the memories that become the tradition.
If you would like to make this a tradition in your house, there are tons of how-to’s out there! Get creative! Here’s how we did it:

Print Recipe
Ostara Eggs
We expanded our egg dye repertoire to 4 colors this year: yellow onion skin for that deep, complex rust-tea color; red cabbage for purple; beets for red; and blueberry for blue. Maybe everyone knows this (the grandparents’ eye rolling indicated this was the case), but I didn’t, so I’ll pass this tip on: hard boil the eggs prior to working with them! We lost several on the floor to the exuberant toddlers trying to do everything at once.
Cuisine Kitchen Craft
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 1-12 hours
Servings
dozen eggs
Ingredients
Cuisine Kitchen Craft
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Passive Time 1-12 hours
Servings
dozen eggs
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In each of four big soup pots place the plant material, water to fill the pot, and about 1/4 cup vinegar (it helps bond the color). I let them simmer for about two hours before we started any dying.
  2. Prep the stockings: the toe-end pieces are fine (they already have a closed end), but the “tube” pieces need to be tied off. Just make a knot at one end of each of them with enough room for the egg and a second knot to close it.
  3. Now you’re ready! Grab an egg, one stocking “sack”, and a flower or leaf of your choice. Wet the egg. Place the flower on the egg (the water will help it stay in place). Put your hand inside the sack so that you can hold the egg and flower firmly through the stocking material, and then unfold the stocking over so that the egg is inside the sack. Tie a knot in the open end as tightly as you can (this holds the flower closely onto the egg and makes a clearer image on the finished product).
  4. Place the egg sack into the color of your choice! The longer you leave the egg in the dye, the deeper and more complex the color will be; most of these were dyed for just one hour but the darkest were left in the pot for about 4 hours.
  5. With all the children involved, this made a spectacular mess of my stovetop! But I found the splatter patterns quite beautiful and took several artsy pictures of them before the inevitable deep clean-up.
Recipe Notes

*Make sure to tie the stocking sacks tightly! The blue egg in the carton with the clear flower print was tightly placed, while most of the rest in the carton were tied loosely.
*The longer you leave the eggs in the dye the more vibrant they will be. The dark blue and rust ones were left in for about 4 hours while others were only dyed for 1 hour .
*The onion skin dye and blueberry dye were the most effective for us (though time was likely a factor; let me know how your eggs turn out in the comments!).

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