How to Make Lithuanian Easter Eggs

Today I will show you how to make traditional Lithuanian Easter eggs, or “margu?iai” (mar-gu-chei).

But shhhh! Don’t tell the Ukrainians. They think they have some kind of monopoly on this thing.

You probably already have at your disposal all the implements needed to make margu?iai, except beeswax. Beeswax is  the key ingredient, so you won’t want to skip it. I’ve heard of people using paraffin as a wax substitute, but those people were never seen or heard from again.

I ordered my beeswax from the mighty Internet, but you can also find it at natural food stores, craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabrics, or your local beekeeper.

You never know when you’ll need a pound of beeswax. But for decorating eggs, just a few ounces will do.

Okay! Let us take a few deep, cleansing breaths to find our center.

We are ready to begin.

First, boil some eggs and let them cool.

Next, cut a potato in half and place it on a plate, cut-side down.

Now take a large metal spoon you can do without and bend it at a ninety-degree angle.

Don't Try This at Home

(If you are not familiar with ninja mind control, I bet you could also just use your hands.)

Stick the handle of the spoon in the top of the potato, put a few pieces of wax on the spoon, and light a small candle directly underneath it, close enough to the spoon to melt the wax.* Like so:

Next, grab a pencil and stick a sewing pin with a smallish head into the eraser end.

When the wax is completely melted and piping hot (may be smoking just a little bit), you are ready to begin decorating.

Dip the pin head into the hot wax and hold it there for a few seconds. Then take it out and brush it on your hard boiled egg with surgeon-like precision, using careful, measured strokes. You’ll need to re-dip the pin head in the wax for each stroke you want to make on the egg. The hot wax always goes on in a teardrop shape, which lends itself nicely to flower, sun, and vine patterns.

The key is to transfer the hot wax onto the egg quickly, before it cools and hardens on the pin head. And once the wax is on the egg, THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

Why? Because the parts of the egg that are covered in wax will not take color, so even if you try to hide your faux-pas by scratching it off, when the egg is dyed, the mistake will become visible for all the world to see. You’ll probably be run out of town  and on your tombstone will be written, “She screwed up a Lithuanian Easter egg and tried to cover it up.”

Shame.

When you feel you have applied a sufficient amount of wax patterns on your egg, dip it in food coloring mixed with hot water and a few tablespoons of vinegar. If you want to go Old Country on your eggs, you can boil all manner of plants and flowers – like red onion peels or beets – to create distinct and vibrant colors. I use Lawry’s food coloring drops.

When you take the egg out of the dye, it should look something like this:

Not too shabby, right?

But, wait! The fun doesn’t end there. You can make multi-colored margu?iai using one simple trick I’m about to show you out of the kindness of my heart.

Wait for your beautiful colored egg to dry.

Take it back to your workstation.

Put some more wax on it. Keep your hand steady and make it nice, for Pete’s sake.

Now, dip the egg in another color dye. The wax patterns you put on during the second go-round will take on the color you dipped the egg into the first time.

Dare I say the end result is magical?

Smart. Beautiful. Lithuanian Easter Eggs.

(If you’ve made these before, please add your tips and tricks in the comment section below!)

* You can also use a fondue pot or similar device, which is a better for regulating the temperature of the wax.

 

Special thanks to R?ta Degutis of the Lithuanian-American Citizens Club of Cleveland, who hosted the workshop where I did my decorating this year. Because if there’s anything I like better than decorating margu?iai, it’s decorating margu?iai while sipping Lithuanian beer. If you live in the Cleveland area, stop by the Gintaras (Amber) Dining Room on Fridays from 5-8 or Sundays from 11-2 for traditional Lithuanian fare.

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38 thoughts on “How to Make Lithuanian Easter Eggs

  1. stephanie smirnov

    Gorgeous, truly. I first learned the trick where you use onion skins to make pretty red eggs from my husband but no fancy beeswax for us, we put rubber bands around the eggs pre-dye to make stripes. So I guess Russian Easter eggs are lazier than Lithuanian Easter eggs.

    Reply
  2. Nadine

    My Russian Mom used to melt her wax in the metal lid from a mayonaise jar. Do those still have metal lids? But she used the same pin in the pencil eraser. Mine (nor hers) looked as good as yours, We also used to make the traditional Ukrainian eggs (pysanky). I did much better using a stylus. We have beeswax in the house, somewhere. You’ve inspired me to try these again this year.

    Reply
  3. Vida

    Rima, keep the eggs hot/warm, it makes a big difference when applying the wax. I cover mine in the pot with a thick towel. Although, I don’t recommend the eggs hot if the kids are going to do the marguciai.
    Linksmu Velyku!!
    Vida

    Reply
      1. Daniel

        Hello, it’s me
        I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
        To go over everything
        They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
        But I ain’t done much healing

        Hello, can you hear me?
        I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be
        When we were younger and free
        I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

        There’s such a difference between us
        And a million miles

        Hello from the other side
        I must’ve called a thousand times
        To tell you I’m sorry
        For everything that I’ve done
        But when I call you never
        Seem to be home

        Reply
  4. Mary Martinec

    Your eggs are the best part of Now and the best part of Then. I love the trick of sticking the spoon in the potato. I’m just a Lugan living in Chicago. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  5. Shannon Taylor

    Hi Rima,
    I came over to visit via Design Mom. The eggs are really beautiful…thank you for sharing how to make them. I linked to your instructions in my blog. I’ll definitely come back to visit so I can read more of your posts.

    I have a special place in my heart for neurologists after my husband had a mountain biking accident last fall. He’s doing well, but I know a lot more about spinal cords than I’d ever hoped to!

    Anyway, thanks again and have a wonderful Easter.

    Reply
  6. Kiera

    Dude, this is awesome. Awesome, like, I can’t wait til next Easter, awesome. BOOKMARK. and yes, those Ukranians do tend to get arrrwfully territorial. And after studying a bit of their history I understand why- kinda. :)

    Reply
  7. Cory

    This also works with rubber cement! The technique is similar, but after you dry the eggs, you can just rub off the cement. Makes it a ton easier for kids to do!

    Reply
  8. Nadya Miloserdova

    Any melted candle works well, too. There’s no necessity to melt beeswax. Light up a candle, and dip the end of your stylus or a pin into the liquid wax (or paraffin). Draw anything you like on an egg, and then dye it as you described. You may also go without drawing. Simply take a burning candle, and let the liquid wax drop on the surface of an egg. Cover your egg with polka-dot – an interesting effect!

    But never EVER boil an egg with wax – in hot water the wax will leave the egg’s surface BEFORE the dye can sit on it!

    Reply
    1. Rima Post author

      I think Lithuanians traditionally used beeswax because of its low melting point. It goes on nicely and smells great, too!

      Reply
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  11. Amber Du Brutz

    You don’t have to use a spoon and a candle to melt the wax! You can get a metal lid and and an electric beverage warmer to melt the wax! I went St. Casimir’s Saturday Lithuanian School in Los Angeles and that’s how we always melted the wax!

    Reply
    1. Rima Post author

      Hi Amber! Yep, I just used the spoon/candle method for this because most people readily have these supplies available.

      Reply
  12. Voula

    Do you suggest certain colours to use first or colour combinations that work best if we want to try doing different colours??

    Will the beeswax melt off in the pot with the dye or does it stay on?

    Can you email me if possible as I want to do these tomorrow voulas@pegasusgroup.ca

    Voula

    Reply
  13. Cathy G

    A friend had sent me your site via fb and I’m so glad he did.
    As a child I can remember my Dad and Grandpap sitting at the kitchen table decorating eggs this way for Easter. Thank you for bring back some beautiful memories.

    Reply
  14. Michelle

    My kids and I just made our first Lithuanian Easter eggs with your instructions! Definitely magical. A?i? labai ir Linksm? Velyk? from another Lithuanian Cleveland girl!

    Reply
  15. Kristina Arlauskas Hartley

    Loved your designs. Do you have any other typical Lithuanian designs? What were the most common colors used. I remember my mom dying eggs in onion skins. They came out gorgeous but we never put designs on them. I think I will give it a try this year.

    Reply
  16. Rasa

    You forgot to mention that after you have dyed it you need to get the wax off. The traditional way is by boiling the egg at that stage – they worked on raw eggs and boiled them at the end of the process.

    Reply
  17. Diane

    We would run the finished eggs quickly through a flame and wipe as we turned to remove the clumps of wax. The eggs would then be shiny

    Reply

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