Pysanky, the Ukrainian Easter Tradition

Where did coloring eggs originate? Not with eggs dipped with a Paas color kit, which is a treasured US Easter tradition. Historically, the coloring of eggs has been taking place for 6000 years. Early Pagans in the Ukraine believed that eggs were a symbol of nature’s rebirth and they colorfully decorated eggs with symbols as a celebration of winter’s end and spring’s promise of new hope, new life, and prosperity. The eggs, with their decorations, were thought to protect people from misfortune and bring good luck. As Christianity became the primary religion in the region, this type of decorating continued and coincided with celebrations of the Resurrection. Pysanky is the name for this traditional folk art style of egg coloring which is uniquely Ukrainian. Pysanky comes from the verb pysaty, which in Ukrainian means to inscribe and it is exactly how this art is accomplished. Raw eggs are inscribed with geometric patterns using a wax-resist technique similar to batik. Designs are drawn in beeswax with a stylus called a kistka (a nail attached to a tiny funnel), the eggs are then dipped into a colored dye which is repeated over and over again to obtain a rich colorful quality. Pysanky are created towards the end of lent and can be a painstaking process. Depending upon the amount of color and detail, one egg can take between 5 to 14 hours to complete. The secret of this art form has been handed down through many generations.

It is difficult to write this blog about Ukraine and pysanky without feeling a deep sense of anguish and despair with respect to Russia’s warrantless invasion. Pysanky’s connection to “spring’s promise of new hope, new life, and prosperity” seems untenable at the moment. I am holding hope, along with the world, that the promise of new hope, new life, and prosperity will prevail and the pysanky ritual will ward off the evil spirits.

I stand with Ukraine, as we all do. You can learn the history behind pansky and how to create your own here.

Taylor Design Blog

By Mary Ellen

Finance Director