Come to Dubrovnik and be in Stradun on the Easter morning. Let a young girl present you with a painted egg...
Easter programmes in Dubrovnik present the spirit of tradition and the Catholic spirit of the people who piously attend celebrations of the Holy Week, particularly the ceremonious procession under the Cross on Good Friday, and share gifts such as painted eggs, plaited palm leaves, olive twigs and the pinca (a special Easter cake).
On Palm Sunday people of faith in the Dubrovnik region go to church where olive twigs and finely plaited palm leaves are taken for blessing. Easter symbolises the awaking of nature, when plants bud and blossom, and when new life is born. That is why eggs became the universally accepted symbols of newly awaked life with good reason. The plaited palm leaves are characteristic of south Croatia. The tradition of plaiting palm leaves has fortunately been preserved not only for the present day, but also for the future, because it is passed on to young generations. On Palm Sunday, after the mass and blessing, the twigs are taken to the houses and placed under the crucifix or on a picture frame. Some families place parts of the blessed twigs in every room of their homes. In the past the twigs were taken to the apiaries, fields and stables. It is believed that the blessed twigs granted good crops, protection against bad weather, and health, happiness and prosperity. They say that at Easter the first painted egg is given as a present to the person who is dearest to you. It is thus not surprising that the main motif on many of the painted eggs is a heart.
The main purpose of this intrinsic Dubrovnik area tradition comprised the expressions of love and affection, but also the revealing of hidden feelings. People took a good care when choosing the person whom they will present with the egg. Symbolising life and nature, the red painted eggs were highly valued. Some of the messages on Easter eggs with which girls presented boys included: „I'll paint the little egg and give it to my beloved“, „This egg will be a present to the one who has dark eyes“, „Your heart and mine are in love“. Giving a painted egg as a present one expressed love, affection, sincerity, cordial friendship, commitment and closeness. On the eggs intended for their children mothers used to write: „This little egg will be a present to my precious baby“, while the eggs intended for the friends and relatives included the greetings such as: „Happy Easter everyone, most of all Christians!”