My Pysanky

One day when my son was very young he asked me, “hey mom, what’s with the Easter bunny?”  Wanting to set a good example by always telling the truth I explained to him that actually there was no bunny that secretly came hopping into our house leaving eggs behind.  I explained that the eggs (that I hid for him) represented spring and all the new life that is born at this time of year. Ie. Spring flowers, baby birds, buds on the trees, and of course bunnies.  He thought this was a good answer.  As traditions go, each year at this time my sister-in-law (SIL) has an egg painting/tea party for all her female friends and family.  All of us gather on a Sunday afternoon to share stories, eat, drink tea and paint eggs.  My SIL inherited her mothers collection of beautiful bone china tea cups, so to honour her mother and the tea cups we celebrate.  A good friend of my SIL has taught us, or ‘patiently’ tries to teach us, the Ukrainian method of painting ‘pysanky’.  Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs decorated using a wax-resist (batik) method.  Using a stylus or ‘pysak’ the design is written with beeswax melted onto the egg.  The egg is then dipped into coloured dye and then more beeswax is applied creating a layering of pattern.  The application of beeswax in sequence with dipping into dyes in order of light dyes to dark dyes creates the pysanky.   Historically in Ukrainian culture the pysanky were made at night when the children were sleeping.  The women in the family would gather together secretly and create the pysanky to give to their family.  The patterns and colour combinations were handed down from mother to daughter and carefully guarded.  To give a pysanka is to give a symbolic gift of life.  Each year at this time I display my pysanky in a crystal bowl that I inherited from my mother.  My pysanky designs are improving but it is the gathering of women, drinking tea and sharing that I think is real special.

Images via Modmissy

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