Horseshoes on Easter eggs: An old Hungarian tradition is kept alive by artisans

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. horseshoe / ˈhɔrsˌʃu / (n) – a thin U-shaped metal nailed to the bottom of a horse’s hoof for protection

    Some cultures believe that it’s good luck to hang a horseshoe up in your home.

  2. blacksmith / ˈblækˌsmɪθ / (n) – someone who makes or repairs objects made of metal, especially iron

    My grandfather was a blacksmith who made tools and furniture.

  3. hollowed-out / ˈhɒl oʊd aʊt / (adj) – having the insides removed

    The simple boat we made is basically a hollowed-out tree.

  4. perseverance / ˌpɜr səˈvɪər əns / (n) – the quality of continuing to do something despite difficulties

    Perseverance seems rare these days; many people give up so quickly.

  5. dexterity / dɛkˈstɛr ɪ ti / (n) – the ability to perform tasks easily and skillfully with one’s hands

    Young children need to improve their dexterity to be able to write.


Read the text below.

Throughout the Christian world, people celebrate Easter by decorating eggs. In Hungary, they decorate them with miniature horseshoes — a delicate craft called egg-shoeing.

The tradition dates back to the 19th century. At the time, it was considered the ultimate test of skill for a blacksmith. It is kept alive today by a handful of artisans such as Gyula Laszlo.

To decorate an egg, Laszlo drills a pattern of tiny holes into a hollowed-out hen’s egg. He inserts metal threads into the holes and then uses tweezers to mount a miniature horseshoe on the shell.

“I always say that I got infected by this and not by drugs. … I cannot be cured,” Laszlo said on March 31 in his workshop in Markaz, a village in northern Hungary.

He said that anyone with time on their hands can learn the skill: “All you need is perseverance, and perhaps a little dexterity.” (Reuters)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Egg-shoeing is kept alive today by only a handful of artisans like Laszlo. In your opinion, how important is it to keep traditional crafts alive? Why? Discuss.
  • In your country, what traditional crafts are at risk of disappearing? Why? Discuss.
  • What can be done to keep traditional crafts alive (ex. video documentation, free lessons for local kids)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Laszlo says that anyone with time on his/her hands can learn egg-shoeing. Do you agree with him? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Would you be interested in trying egg-shoeing? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What (other) crafts would you like to try? Why? Discuss.