On Holy Saturday, my mother would boil one dozen eggs for each child and we could color them any way our hearts’ desired! My mom would buy a couple of the coloring kits which have the color pellet that dissolves in water and made 12 cups of color and put them on the kitchen table. Five little girls with 12 eggs each and 12 cups of color. You would have thought that since there was a great abundance of choices – and the fact that it was Holy Saturday – there would be very few arguments. Obviously, you have never been around small children during egg coloring time! This is a time of great artistic fervor and a need to express one’s self without restraint. This is a child’s chance to help the Easter Bunny and make beautiful eggs worthy of the holiday! So — there were LOTS of arguments — “You’re hogging the blue! I need blue!”, “It’s my turn to use the white crayon to draw on my eggs!”, “Don’t dip your egg in that color while my egg is in there — you will crack it.” – or possibly the best one — “You stole my egg! That was my egg in the yellow cup!” All in the spirit of Easter – a holiday of kindness, renewal and joy!
Since we colored eggs on Saturday night, that meant that Sunday morning we would get dressed up in our finest Easter outfits. Our hair was clean and shiny. We had new, freshly pressed dresses with matching hats. We had new frilly socks and new shoes. We had new purses with new white gloves (yes – I’m old — when I was a little girl we still bought white gloves to wear to church — just like Jackie Kennedy!). We had instructions not to take those gloves off during Mass, even when we blessed ourselves with Holy Water as we entered the Church – and we would never have even considered such a thing because our fingertips were stained with the colors we had used the night before on our eggs! No amount of scrubbing would get that color out and by the time you stick your fingers in all 12 cups of color – your fingers took on a strange brownish-purlpish hue – which made it appear that we all suffered from untreated frostbite! The gloves were definitely a must!
This tradition was carried on with my own children – we had one dozen eggs for each child to color and 10 cups of color. Again – lots of choices and still lots of arguing — even the same ones I had heard and used as a child — “Get your egg out the blue color – it’s my turn!”, “It’s my turn to write on my egg (I thought I had solved this one by having extra white crayons – but they always seemed to want the same one!)”, and of course, “You stole my egg! Give it back!” We also went to Mass the next day all spiffed up for the important day – but without the white gloves. The boys wouldn’t have worn them anyway and the girls would have felt like they had some disease. All of my children showed off their discolored fingers with great pride – showing that they had colored eggs the night before and were artists!
We have now started the tradition with my grandchildren. I used to make my children dress in old clothes before we started our artwork – so we wouldn’t stain any good clothes. My daughter, Jenny has decided that what is the point of staining any clothing — and we let the little ones strip to their diapers. They enjoy this even more and I’ve noticed that we now not only have stained fingertips but sometimes bellies, elbows and knees might get decorated as well! I don’t think this will cause a problem since they are still only 2 and 4 years old — and their Easter outfits will still cover most of the artwork. They are still too young to argue over each other’s eggs and cups of color — so there is a lot of giggling and silliness — mainly from the adults in the group.
I still boil a dozen eggs for each child (even though they are all in their 20’s) and each grandchild (we eat a lot of deviled eggs for Easter dinner!) – and there are still only 10 cups of color for the entire group. I don’t hear the arguing any longer — they just laugh and find ways to irritate each other in a loving way. And on Easter morning — they are all still proud of those colored fingers and the fact that they helped the Easter Bunny color eggs.