Bulgarian Orthodox Easter is slightly different to the Easter that I’m used to in England and I wanted to share with you the experience of my first Bulgarian Easter!
Firstly, I noticed that the supermarkets were selling little packets of paint and although I’d seen a few chocolate bunnies around there was a distinct lack of chocolate eggs! I learnt that in Bulgaria it’s traditional to paint eggs on either the Thursday or Saturday before Easter Sunday. It would seem that the exchanging of chocolate eggs was not traditional and although that was slightly disappointing I was curious to experience the local customs.
So, on Thursday night, armed with about 40 eggs and a packet of paint I got started!
First of all you need to hard boil all of your eggs, this can take some time!
I was thinking that I’d get a paintbrush and little paint pots, kind of what you had at primary school but it wasn’t quite like that! In fact, it was far messier!
The paint comes in liquid or powder form. You add the paint to a jar of warm water and allow it to mix.
Once the paint is ready you start by placing the first boiled egg into the red paint. According to tradition the first egg painted must always be red. This represents the blood shed by Christ at his crucifixion and is a symbol of the resurrection. After the first red egg is painted, you place all the eggs one by one into the jars of colourful paint.
The paint stains the eggs within a few minutes and they can be removed, dried and placed into an Easter basket.
To make things more interesting you can also start mixing the paints to create all kinds of designs! Dabbing the paint onto some cotton wool and wrapping the egg inside is a great way to make a multi-coloured Easter egg!
After about an hour I had a perfect basket of painted eggs!
The eggs are saved until Easter Sunday, which also marks the end of Lent. The first red painted egg is kept for the house and then traditionally Bulgarian family members each choose one egg that they believe will crack the shell of their opponents egg. Taking it in turns you tap the top and bottom of each others eggs. The person who is left with the egg that doesn’t break is believed to be in for good luck all year!
After this, all the eggs can be eaten, not quite the same as chocolate eggs I admit but it was certainly still enjoyable!