Monday, March 30, 2015

Pasch or Easter Eggs - Scratched, Waxed, Gilded, Dyed and Onioned

Get out the Paas dyes or go natural.  Here are some 1830 decorating ideas for eggs to give, roll or throw. Past posts on Easter Monday Rolls HERE and onion skin eggs HERE

From Hone's The Everyday Book, London: 1830 -

"Easter Eggs. Another relic of the ancient times, are the eggs which pass about at Easter week under the name of pask, paste, or pace eggs.

Egg exchange…a custom still prevalent in some parts of Cumberland, although not as generally attended to as it was twenty or thirty years ago [c1800]… sending reciprocal presents of eggs, at Easter, to the children of families respectively, betwixt whom any intimacy subsists. For some weeks preceding Good Friday the price of eggs advances considerably, from the great demand occasioned by the custom referred to.

Different ways to make Easter Eggs
The modes adopted to prepare the eggs for presentation are the following: there may be others which have escaped my recollection.

Candle wax
The eggs being immersed in hot water for a few moments, the end of a common tallow-candle is made use of to inscribe the names of individuals, dates of particular events, &c. The warmth of the egg renders this a very easy process. Thus inscribed, the egg is placed in a pan of hot water, saturated with cochineal, or other dye-woods; the part over which the tallow has been passed is impervious to the operation of the dye; and consequently when the egg is removed from the pan, there appears no discolouration of the egg where the inscription has been traced, but the egg presents a white inscription on a coloured ground. The colour of course depends upon the taste of the person who prepared the egg; but usually much variety of colour is made use of.
Another method of ornamenting "pace eggs" is, however, much neater, although more laborious, than that with the tallow-candle. The egg being dyed, it may be decorated in a very pretty manner, by means of a penknife, with which the dye may be scraped off, leaving the design white, on a coloured ground. An egg is frequently divided into compartments, which are filled up according to the taste and skill of the designer. Generally 1) one compartment contains the name and (being young and unsophisticated) also the age of the party for whom the egg is intended. In another 2) is, perhaps, a landscape; and sometimes a cupid is found lurking in a third: 3) so that these "pace eggs" become very useful auxiliaries to the missives of St. Valentine. Nothing was more common in the childhood of the writer, than to see a number of these eggs preserved very carefully in the corner-cupboard; each egg being the occupant of a deep, long-stemmed ale-glass, through which the inscription could be read without removing it. Probably many of these eggs now remain in Cumberland, which would afford as good evidence of dates in a court of justice, as a tombstone or a family-bible.

It will be readily supposed that the majority of pace eggs are simply dyed; or dotted with tallow to present a piebald or bird's-eye appearance. These are designed for the junior boys ... they are hurled to swift destruction. In the process of dying they are boiled pretty hard...  [ EGG ROLL AND CRACKING/THROWING ]

Hard boiled with onion skins
Pasch eggs are to be found at Easter in different parts of the kingdom... and called paste eggs. One of his children brought to him a paste egg at Easter, 1824, beautifully mottled with brown. It had been purposely prepared for the child by the servant, by being boiled hard within the coat of an onion, [ ONION SKIN EGGS ]which imparted to the shell the admired colour. Hard boiling is a chief requisite in preparing the patch egg. In some parts they are variously coloured with the juices of different herbs, and played with by boys, who roll them on the grass, or toss them up for balls. Their more elegant preparation is already described by our obliging correspondent, J. B.

Royal gifts – leaf gold or stained
The terms pace, paste, or pasch, are derived from paschal, which is a name given to Easter from its being the paschal season. Four hundred eggs were bought for eighteen-pence in the time of Edward I., as appears by a royal roll in the tower; from whence it also appears they were purchased for the purpose of being boiled and stained, or covered with leaf gold, and afterwards distributed to the royal household at Easter. They were formerly consecrated, and the ritual of pope Paul V. for the use of England, Scotland, and Ireland, contains the form of consecration. On Easter eve and Easter day, the heads of families sent to the church large chargers, filled with the hard boiled eggs, and there the "creature of eggs" became sacred by virtue of holy water, crossing, and so on.
Hone, William.  The Every Day Book: Or, A Guide to the Year. Vol 2.  London: 1830
©2015 Patricia Bixler Reber
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