Duringthe spring period, there may be some rime on the windows in themorning signifying frost, but it is undeniable that there is afeeling of the promise of a new season. During the spring period,there are various rituals which take place for different reasons. Thediscussion of this paper will center on the egg traditions as aspring ritual. The choice of the ritual is because of thesignificance and essentiality of the egg in symbolizing the birth,growth and eternity which is the case with spring. Since the firsttime, the spring was observed, it has been a continuous phenomenonbeing celebrated yearly, and the celebration will last for eternity.The paper will employ ethnography through participant observation topresent observations, analysis, and reflections of the egg ritualsduring spring.
Sincetime in the memorial, people use eggs as a crucial symbol in thecritical atmosphere of the spring season which is characterized bybirth, and continuous growth for a lifetime (Kathleen 27). There is asignificant power associated with the handling of the eggs theequinox period which has been of great influence on the differentspring rituals over the years and across wide cultures. There weremany festivals taking place during the spring across variouslocations in Ancient Egypt. During the festivals held in springperiod, there were red-dyed eggs in circulation as gifts. Thefamilies held Easter dinner during which members toast each otherwith eggs. The toasting was through tapping one member to the nextsurrounding the table with the use of hard boiled red-dyed eggs. Itthen was observed the egg that remained unbroken at the end of thetapping which would then be translated to imply good luck throughouta year for the last person to hold it.
Thecelebrations took place in the family’s ground, and all the memberswere expected to be present from the youngest to the oldest as longas the young one was old enough to perform the tasks by themselves.The very young children and the elderly people who needed support andhelp from other family members in undertaking the rituals wereexempted from the festivals. The celebrations involved both the maleand female family members in equal dimensions. As long as one was ofage, there were in the celebrations despite the gender affiliations.
Duringthe rituals, the preparation of the eggs for the ritual was through acertain process for use in the festivals. To begin with, the eggswere allowed to be at room temperature whose intention was to ensureminimal cracking during simmering. After that, the next step was tofill a saucepan with water which was enough to cover the number ofeggs being dyed. The dye stuff was then added to the water. A plantmaterial measuring handful added to a pint of water already in thesaucepan was enough for dyeing two to three eggs depending on thesize of the egg. Then simmering of the eggs took place. The simmeringlasted between fifteen to thirty minutes or up to the point the waterseemed darker than the desired shade for the eggs whichever occurredfirst. The eggs were then immersed in the water carefully with atablespoon of vinegar being added to the water. Depending on how wellthe water covered the eggs, it was decided on whether it wasnecessary to add more water to the eggs to make sure the eggs werewell and completely covered. Simmering then took place for aroundfifteen to twenty minutes to ensure that they have taken the rightshade of color. The simmering was also done to ensure the eggs werehard boiled to minimize breakage. The heat was then turned off andthe eggs allowed to cool while still in the dye bath to deepen theshade of the coloring.
Fromwhat I learned during the spring rituals, there are many reasons andcultural beliefs associated with dyeing and beautification of eggs.Besides being exchanged at the round table, they were the dyed eggswould be buried in plowed fields. This was done to persuade thespring goddess to come out from her hibernation during winter andbring the fruits of abundance and fertility alongside with her(Kathleen 29). The use of red dye was to symbolize menstrual bloodcolor and draw the life force to the land. Ideally, the celebrationof the spring festivals was at the beginning of the year to symbolizefertility and creation (Mayes 324).
Frommy participation in the spring rituals, there were various crucialobservations critical for the ritual. These people had a firm beliefon the symbol and nature of the eggs, and the process of thepreparation of the eggs for the ritual was very crucial to theritual. The boiling and dyeing were undertaken with a keenness toensure that the eggs attained the right tone of color and hardness.The observation of these rituals was important to the culture becauseit was a means and symbol of fertility and growth for the communityand thus abundance for the coming cycle. The use of eggs was tosymbolize the start of a new season and the birth of new lives aswell.
Theserituals were crucial to every participating member because it wasused as a spell to tell how the coming season would look like. It wasimportant for the members to hold the practices carefully to ensurethat they would have blessings and luck in the coming year. Mostimportantly, is the belief that the rituals were a means ofpersuasion of the goddess to bring along fertility and fruits ofabundance to the community. This was crucial to the members becausethey were sure of continuity of their lineage just by performing therituals. The members portrayed good and calm behavior during theperformance of the rituals. Again, the preparation of the eggs foruse in the rituals was done with extreme keenness. The combination ofthe behavior and development process clearly show that the ritual wascrucial for the members. If it were not of any importance, themembers would not have taken their precious time to prepare the eggsand perform the rituals.
Astime has gone by, there has been changes in the performance of thisritual and the beliefs surrounding it. For instance, boiling of eggstoday does not symbolize creation and fertility. There are unlikelyfew people still holding the belief about the eggs. Today people boileggs as a means of cooking. Again, dyeing of the eggs does notsymbolize what the spring rituals stipulated. The dyeing is usuallydone in various bright colors unlike the red color only as during thespring festivals, and the reason for dyeing is to keep them away fromthe children. There are different types of eggs such as eggs withchocolate and marzipan eggs for the celebration of the springfestivals unlike before when only red dyed eggs were used.
Thedyeing of the eggs for the celebration of the spring rituals is inline with the theoretical framework which shows the importance of eggdyeing for the celebration of the spring festivals. Eggs were used asa spring celebration. In the past, there was a relationship betweenpagan festivals and spring celebrations. The eggs were a symbol ofbirth, and new life thus appropriate for the observance of springfestivals and the birth of new life after the winter season (Kathleen27). It was an ordinary process to undertake the painting andbeautification of the eggs as well as the gifting of the beautifiedeggs to family and friends. This is in line with the observation Ihad during the spring rituals. The members beautified the eggs andwere passed to the members as a symbol of birth, new life, andcontinuity of the community.
Undertakingthis assignment using participant observation was a whole lot newexperience for me. Unlike other times when other methods wereincorporated, this process felt real because I was part of the peopleundertaking the rituals. I could identify the process clearly andunderstand the process better than in the event where I learned therituals from other sources. Participant observation relays firsthandinformation and, thus there is no distortion of the informationduring the collection process. The process made me view things in adifferent capacity. Some things we read from other sources are noteasy to comprehend. However, getting the opportunity of a participantobserver made me gain a deeper understanding of the spring ritualsand thus a different view of things.
Kathleen,Halloran. “A History of Spring Traditions.” Journalof Spring Traditions. 2.32. 27-35. 1996. Print.
Mayes,Frances. “Spring Equinox.” CollegeEnglish. 55.3. 324. 1993. Print.