If you ask Romanians what their favorite part of celebrating Easter was when they were kids, I'm betting that all will give you the same answer: decorating the Pashal eggs, the Easter eggs. To this day, I fondly remember using the onion leaves to turn the Easter eggs naturally red. Sometimes, I used clovers or different types of leaves to create beautiful patterns and make them unique. Luckily, there is an egg decorating tradition, which guarantees that you will marvel at beautiful egg designs, for a very long time. In northern Romania, in Suceava, a part of the Bucovina region, the art of Easter egg decorating can be spotted at Princely Inn. In this place, you can step into a world of colors and traditions that will steal your breath away.
All Romanian Easter traditions have one thing in common - the presence of Easter eggs. While most are there for nourishing purposes, some are solely meant to decorate the dinner table with. Egg decorating is common throughout Romania, but the region of Bucovina is most famous for the intricate designs and colors that are being used.
Most painted patterns are inspired by traditional Romanian clothing. One can find traditional costumes from all over Romania in the capital. In Bucharest, the fashion at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant is as colorful as the Easter eggs themselves.
Even though the egg decorating techniques may vary, the first step of the process usually is washing the eggs with vinegar, so that the surface is smooth. Next, artists opt between emptying the eggshell of its content or boiling the eggs whole. Emptying the egg's content makes the future work of art more precious and delicate. It is usually done with a needle, puncturing the egg in its two extremities. Then the interior of an egg is blown out of its shell. A special wooden pen, with a single thread of pig's hair at its tip, is used to apply melted beeswax onto the surface of the egg where the artist wants to keep the surface colorless. The pen helps make intricate designs with the beeswax before dipping the egg into a dye. The process repeats itself until the egg looks like a mosaic. The final step consists of warming the egg, so that the beeswax can be rubbed off and the true colors of the egg can be seen.
Red is the most popular color used in egg decorating, but artists also combine it with yellow, brown, blue, green, and black. As you may be aware, the red and black colors symbolize fertility and life, whereas yellow represents the sun and riches. Some eggs have crosses, vegetation, and farming tools drawn on them, linking the eggs to everyday life. Each egg is unique and tells something about the life of the artist that made it.
But where can one find a testimony of this great Romanian tradition? Located in Suceava, Princely Inn is the oldest building of the city, dating back to the 17th century. Turned into a museum in 1968, it contains a vast collection of folk art, traditional costumes, ceramics, all sorts of artifacts, and decorated eggs. When you step inside, you'll notice that the museum has kept the rooms just like in the time when it served as an inn. There are quite a few hunting tools and accessories inside as well, as a result of the inn being used as a hunting house in 1775.
The placement of Princely Inn is perfect for decorated egg searchers, due to it being located right in the middle of the city. This means that especially around Easter time, the inn is surrounded by stores that display and sell all sorts of decorated Easter eggs. This way, you get to not only experience what life in an inn used to be like and see its old painted eggs but also get an egg of your own.
The art of Easter egg decorating can be seen all year round at Princely Inn in the city of Suceava. After witnessing the artistic process and seeing how the technique hasn't changed in so many years, I can only be glad of its existence and hope for this tradition to last many lifetimes to come.
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