It is Great and Holy Wednesday in the region of Dytiki Macedonia, which is the western part of Greece that consists of 4 cities, Florina, Grevena, Kastoria, and Kozani. The women in the quaint town of Tsotyli, Kozani, prepare for a long-lived tradition that continues until today, the decorating of the Perdikes.
Grandmothers, mothers, and daughters partake in this unique ceremony that became a family inheritance which requires patience, fantasy, and Meraki, that can be translated as “something we do that comes from our hearts.”
The materials that are needed are thoroughly cleaned and dried eggs, beeswax and a calligraphy dip pen that can be purchased online. The egg used in this ritual symbolizes fertility and health while connecting nature’s beauty with human art and technique.
My ancestors endowed me with pages of Perdikes designs of customary drawings of flowers in bloom inspired by the unparalleled natural beauty that surrounded the Western Macedonian area. These drawings were given as a dowry to be treasured by the women in my family.
To begin drawing on the egg, you may use a pencil and then trace over your design. Anyone can accomplish the most elaborate and picturesque designs. Then, carefully dip the pen into the melted beeswax and place it on the egg to form your creation. The wax is applied cautiously with the love of art, nature, and tradition.
The time that is given for designing Perdikes can be from 20 minutes to an hour for each egg. Greek Nikokires, or women of the household, usually complete their chores around the house while taking breaks and decorating Perdikes in preparation of our Great and Holy Easter Sunday.
After we have created our Perdikes, we wait until Holy Thursday to dye them red. We use red dye, cold water and place the eggs to boil for 8-10 minutes. It is important not use vinegar or salt because that would dilute the wax and our design would vanish. Once the eggs have boiled and acquired the red color, you can take them out carefully one by one and clean them with a dry cloth. In the end, you may also add a bit of olive oil on the cloth to give them a shine.
Women embroider Perdikes worthy of display in their households for Easter Sunday. Perdikes are placed in a bowl for all to see and stand out like a jewel in the Greek Orthodox home. This is a beloved Western Macedonian tradition from my family to yours, Kali Anastasi! Happy Greek Orthodox Easter!