Pysanky- A Ukrainian Tradition
Submitted by Christofer Doyle
As I grew up and went through all my different levels of schooling, from kindergarten up to my current year in university, there were definitely some good and bad times. Of all the experiences I’ve had, some were much more enjoyable and have created lasting memories in my mind. One thing I will never forget occurred when I was in grade six. Mrs. Reshietnik, who was my teacher at the time, was a very strict teacher that would often assign more work than was necessary. She was never very much fun to be around. One day however, she surprised the class. It was the week before Easter and she had decided to give us an activity day. We were going to be making Pysanky Eggs! Yay!… wait a minute, what the heck are those?!
Pysanky Eggs (Pysanka) are Ukrainain Easter eggs that are decorated with all kinds of patterns and colors. They are traditionally made during the last week of Lent. The process of making these eggs is rather simple but requires very fine motor skills. The eggs must be baked before any wax can be applied. After baking, beeswax is heated in a small bowl and applied to the eggs using a special tool known as ‘stylus’. The wax is applied in layers, and the egg is dyed a different color between each layer. The idea is to apply wax to the part of the egg that you wish to keep that color. For example, any part of the egg shell that is covered by the first layer of wax will maintain its natural white color.
The tradition of Pysanky dates back to ancient times. The ancient Ukrainians worshipped a sun god known as Dazhboh because they believed the sun to be the source of all life. It became a necessary part of spiritual rituals to have eggs decorated with natural symbols. The eggs served as benevolent talismans.
How is it home?
This tradition has become a very important part of Ukrainian folk culture. Each year around Easter, Ukrainian families will participate in this tradition and the Pysanka can be seen on display nearly everywhere in the country. It has become an activity that is passed on from one generation to the next. For me, this is one memory that has stuck with me ever since that day in grade six. I enjoy looking back and remembering how much fun it was to participate in this tradition. Pysanky is mainly a Ukrainian practice, but I believe there are similar practices among other cultures. Although it may not be my own, I can appreciate how this tradition can be shared and enjoyed by people all around the world.