How To Color And Decorate Easter Eggs The Old Fashioned Way (1890)


For Pleasure And Profit, On Good Friday, At Easter And On Other Days.

THERE is so much to write about eggs and their use that my one fear is of over-stepping all “rules and regulations,” and of writing a book. I shall endeavor to restrain myself, however, and tell of the pleasure, profit and health that have been found in my own experience, and that of others, in the use of eggs. The word “pleasure” may cause no small amount of wonderment to many. “Pleasure in eggs? Too absurd!” I hear it said. “Why, eggs were meant to eat, to nourish us, and —and—well, to fill a place that nothing else will fill.”

Perfectly true; although this may not be a good answer as to the use of eggs, if one leaves out the pleasure, for we all like to rise above the every-day necessity of eating, drinking and sleeping, occasionally, and look out and about us for a few of the pleasures of life. Since almost the first thing I knew of eggs, was the pleasure to be found in them, I shall begin there, and pass on to their more prosaic uses, and hope that my readers who have never seen them used in any art but the art of cooking, may, after reading this article, find themselves wiser if not better women.

The Germans think a great deal of the egg, and there are numberless stories—real and imaginary—about eggs, that may be traced to the good Fatherland. So this custom which my good mother brought from her own childhood to her children’s childhood can be traced back to and accounted for in the German blood and ancestry of the family. We lived in one of the sleepy towns of our neighboring State, Connecticut. Our mother, being an ingenious woman, made of every recurring holiday some new surprise and pleasure. Now our Easter held as much and was as dear to us as Christmas or a birthday could be.

I see now four tiny girls hurrying on Easter Even to the big barn, and each with her bundle of hay find out some secret corner to build a nest; then back slyly to the house, leaving everything in readiness for the wonderful Easter hen that left in the nest of each good girl, eggs in red, blue, yellow, striped, gilded and lettered. Early on that “glorious morn” each would seek their nest with a little basket, and with exclamations and joyous surprises take possession of their kind old friend’s gift.

For breakfast, eggs were the chief food; they were cooked in various ways and each child could choose one from her little store to eat and one to give a playmate, thus sharing our joy with others on the bright Easter Day. In several families where there were little ones this grew to be a custom, as well as in our own home.

As we grew older we were one by one initiated into the egg mystery, and learned many useful things as to their coloring and decoration. We kept up the practice of egg decoration until the past few years, and many a childish heart has been cheered and made to understand the meaning of our blessed Easter, through the egg as a symbol of that new life beyond the grave.


For those who may find use for these suggestions, in striving for a happy Easter, I will give a few of the simple and inexpensive methods we had for coloring and decorating the eggs.

Place on the stove five tin preserve cans or old pails that can be used no more. In the first drop a handful of logwood for red eggs; in the second, logwood with one tablespoonful of bluing for purple; in the third, two handfuls of onion parings for yellow; in the fourth have some very strong coffee for a delicate brown, and in the fifth a small quantity of bluing for light blue. By varying the quantity in each can different shades may be obtained.

Fill each can with boiling water, letting it stand five minutes before dropping in the eggs, which should be done carefully. Leave the cans for twenty minutes where they keep very hot but not boiling. Remove the eggs and when dry, while yet hot, grease with a little butter or drippings. This will give to the egg a smooth, shining surface which must be rubbed briskly until thoroughly dry. The name or an appropriate verse of Scripture gilded on the eggs adds to their beauty and value. Those favored with some knowledge of the brush may elaborate upon this work as much as desired.

The unique use of the egg decorated appropriately for the Easter-tide is very suggestive, and with many persons is preferred to the more costly cards which are to be found in the stores for the season’s greetings to dear friends.

Source: Good Housekeeping, 1890

Index: Easter Throughout History

Old-Fashioned Easter Egg Crafts (1876)

Suggestions For Decorating Easter Eggs (1890s)

How To Color Easter Eggs (inc. coffee, spinach, onions) | 1896

Preparing Home-made Easter Eggs – Instructions From 1911

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