Monday, April 2, 2012

Latvian Easter eggs

The Latvian Easter egg coloring tradition uses onion skins to get a rich, earthy brown, with little flowers and leaves leaving their prints behind in white. I described the method in more detail last year, although the eggs weren’t finished in time for Easter due to issues finding white eggs.

Rice, parsley, rose leaves, clover and dandelion skins

After that debacle I decided to try hosting an Easter egg coloring afternoon again this year. Roberts made the special trip out to the one store that carries œufs blancs, and I stepped up my onion skin collecting. I had been saving them for at least four months, but now I made several trips to the local Carrefour to buy an onion or two and fill the rest of the bag with loose skins from the bin. In the United States I had to explain to the cashier once or twice what they were for (more often I just said “art project”), but here in Clermont with my limited French language proficiency, more often than not I combined a little head shake with a vacant “what are you talking about” look.

The kids hard at work

Friday morning Lauris’s friends (and their moms) started arriving, bags of onion skins, old nylons, grasses and flowers in hand. Some of the prep work was already done the previous night; I had boiled the water and half of the onion skins so the giant pot would have a chance to cool before we put all of our eggs (literally) in one basket. And all that was left to do was decorate and tie our egg bundles, boil them and then let cool for about 20 minutes. And of course drink beaucoup de café, watch the kids practice their social skills in the living room and catch up on the local going-ons.

Photo credit: Evdoxia Ghika

The mothers left for home with their eggs still wrapped so that they would have extra time to cool, and that the kids may have a nice surprise opening the little “presents”. I was too impatient to let the water cool completely before repeating the process with the eggs I had wrapped and so a few cracked from the sudden temperature change, but we’ve more than enough to have our olu sišanās, or “egg-hitting” on Easter morning.

I wish all my readers a wonderful time coloring their eggs and hope you will share the methods you use with me!


  1. Those eggs are delightful! I love the idea of having an egg painting party. Interestingly, white eggs are hard to find in our part of England too :)

  2. They came out amazing! Thanks for having us over, it was so much fun.

  3. Bonjour Liene. Thank you for stopping by today! What a wonderful opportunity for these children [and their moms] to discover a fun and creative tradition from your country! The eggs on the top picture look amazing! Très joli! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. Beautiful eggs! (And yes, many Latvians go on onion-skin buying sprees in the spring, travelling from store to store buying one onion and a sack full of skins. My local ethnic grocery store knows me - and my onionskin hoarding - and I have been lucky enough a few times to be at the store when the onion bin is being "tidied up", scoring a whole box of skins in one fell swoop! It's always an opportunity for some "cross-cultural education"...

  5. Hi Liene, thanks for your nice comment on my blog! I love these eggs, and am definitely planning on trying various natural dyes with my daughter this week. I wish I had had the forethought to start saving my onion skins!

  6. We use the same method in Poland and I never have enough onion skins to achieve rich colour even though I start collecting them a few weeks before Easter. Never thought of going to the store to get some - have to try that! :-)

  7. Sveiks from Australia...lovely to have come across your blog...Priecigus Lieldienas...Dzintra

  8. skaisti skaisti, labs pasākums!

    Ir tāda tautas dziesma

    "Visu gadu sīpolmizas krāju
    Lielo dienu gaidīdama
    Kad atnāca Lielā diena
    Visas mizas izlietoju" :)

  9. Very pretty! I saw this post last year, and am now motivated to try them.

  10. It was an amazing time together...can't beleive it has been 5 years.... Missing you...


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