Centuries ago when Saxons developed mining and blacksmithing in Bosnia’s Kresevo, the ability to shoe an egg was regarded as the sign an apprentice was fit to start his own business and family.
Now only a handful of men in the village are still practicing the art of fitting miniature horseshoes to eggshells, including 69-year-old Stjepan Biletic who trained to do so when he retired from schoolteaching after the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
“The egg is a symbol of creation of new life and new beginning and the horseshoe a symbol of happiness,” he said in his tiny workshop, where he takes at least an hour to shoe an egg, selling each at up to 5 euros ($5).
He supplements his pension with the eggs – seen in almost every yard and window in Kresevo during Easter – and boosts sales by decorating them with other designs: crosses, hearts and soccer club badges, which he casts himself in lead.
He also sells to tourists, he says.
“There is an old saying that it is more important to keep customs alive than villages,” Biletic said, who hopes that he will be able to pass the skill on to his grandson.