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Heather Maxey decorates a “piranha egg” with glitter-glue on a plastic pink egg for Easter. Photo by Sharry Mouss

Families and friends will gather to celebrate Easter this Sunday in their traditional ways. Some will attend church in their Sunday best, and some will hunt eggs, eat and catch up on their rest.

For many Americans, Easter Sunday is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The idea for hunting eggs began when Christians adopted the idea of the egg representing “rebirth” from the Pagans. And although the annual White House egg roll, which began in 1878, has no religious significance, some believe it represents the rolling away of the stone placed in front of Jesus’ tomb.

No matter how, or why, eggs are hunted or rolled, it’s a safe bet they’ll be decorated with fun and beautiful patterns and designs.

The tradition of coloring eggs began when the Christians first adopted the practice from the pagans, decorating the oval orbs to give to friends and family.

The standard egg-dying process has started with a purchased package of dye tablets, which are dissolved in a cup of a water and vinegar mixture. Some people also use regular food coloring to make their own creative hues.

Now that everyone is “going green,” and looking to be environmentally friendly, there are several different ways to dye and design eggs.

“We are always looking for different ways to dye eggs,” said Carly Jones, of Tahlequah.

One alternative Jones and her family have discovered lets them reuse old things that might be lying around the house.

“We cut up old silk ties and wrap them around the eggs before we boil them,” said Jones.

To dye eggs from ties, make sure the ties are 100 percent silk. Old ties can be found at local thrift stores.

Cut the ties into sections large enough to wrap around the egg. Wrap the egg with the “good” side of the tie on the inside. Then secure the tie by wrapping another piece of fabric – such as old nylons, tights or any other old cloth – around it and tying it off with string. Bring the eggs to a boil with water and 3 tablespoons of vinegar and let simmer for 20 minutes.

“The patterns from the ties show up on the eggs, and it is really cool,” said Jones.

Another way to reuse household items is to extract the natural dyes from foods.

“There are many natural egg dyes – canned beets, purple grape juice, yellow onion skin, red cabbage leaves and turmeric,” said Heather Winn, Extension educator of family and consumer sciences for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.

Basic colors can be made out of foods in the cabinet or refrigerator: blueberries and red cabbage leaves for blue; lemon peels and turmeric for yellow; orange peels and yellow onion skins for orange; fresh herbs leaves for green; red wine, red onion skins and raspberries for red; and blackberries and grape juice for yellow.

Boil these ingredients in water and vinegar with the eggs.

If choosing this method of dying, keep in mind it is not preferred if eggs are going to be eaten. Some eggs will absorb the natural flavors of the food.

For those who are more animal-friendly, real egg alternatives include decorating plastic eggs or making paper mache eggs. Stickers, glitter and rhinestones are ideal for these types.

No matter how creative and fun dying eggs can get, the best part of Easter, for the kids, is the hunt.

“Every year, my whole family gets together for Easter. The big kids will take the little ones for a walk while the eggs are being hidden, and then we will help them look for them,” said local resident Stephanie Weygandt.

Young or old, Easter is a holiday everyone can enjoy.

“We have a huge egg and cookie decorating party on the Saturday before,” said Jones.

“We play games with the little kids, my mom reads ‘The Story of the Easter Bunny,’ and we dye one egg emerald green to show them. We love Easter.”

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