Lisa shows the kids a new tradition, Ukrainian Easter eggs.
What appears to be tedious and a time consuming craft, is quite intriguing and rewarding when you learn the basic steps. Each student waited with bright eyes, holding their hard boiled eggs, wrapped in paper towel in the palms of their hands.
Some kids quickly doodled on their eggs, others drew, ever so careful, hearts, birds and flower designs. Each egg was marked by the student’s initials.
The class is learning about Ukraine in their studies and the timing for the special project worked out great just before Easter.
“We really appreciate Lisa, Brooke and the parents coming into the classroom,” said teacher Karin Brown.
Parents were present to lend an extra hand. Brooke and her friends joined in, each helping light the tea lights, assist with the wax burning, and the egg dying process.
Lisa and Brooke both enjoy designing the eggs and teaching the kids. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Brooke.
Th kids learned the instrument to apply the beeswax to the egg is called a kistka. It consists of a wooden dowel for the handle, with a brass funnel secured to the handle with copper wire. You heat the funnel in the flame of the candle, and scoop the wax out with the funnel end.
Creating Ukrainian Easter eggs starts with the lightest color, usually yellow. Everything that the egg holder wants to remain yellow, you cover with wax, using the kistka. Then you dye the egg. Wherever there is wax, the yellow dye will not be able to penetrate. This preserves the white part of the design under the wax.
On the yellow egg, you mark with wax all the parts of the design that you want to remain yellow. Then dye it in the next dye bath, going in progressively darker colors, and add more wax. Near the end, you will have an egg with a great deal of wax on it – black is the finishing color.
Then, using the side of a candle flame, the wax is melted away, revealing the colors that were protected underneath. This results in a brilliantly colored and often very intricately designed egg, sure to bring much joy to both the artist/creator and the recipient.
Pysanka Legends & Traditions
Legend has it that there is a huge evil creature chained to a hillside. Every year when Easter Eggs are made, the number of eggs is counted. If only a few eggs are made, the creature’s bonds are loosened, and evil flows through the earth. However, if many eggs are decorated, the creature’s bonds are tightened, and its evil is kept in check.
One of the predominant occupations of Ukrainians was that of farmer. They had many customs involving decorated eggs. There was a custom of rolling an egg in green oats, and burying it in the field to ensure a good crop. If a farmer kept bees, he would often put an egg beneath the hive. It was generally believed that these eggs kept the crops and the land from harm.
Farmers would hang blown pysanky on a string above the barn door, in the belief that the barn would then be safe from fire and lightning. Before strangers were allowed in the barn, they were asked to look at the hanging pysanka, which would protect the animals inside the barn from the “evil eye”.
Eggs dyed in one color were thought to have magical powers as well. If a person had a serious illness, an egg (which was blessed on Easter eve) was hung around that person’s neck by a string, and the disease was thought to pass into the egg.
In Pagan times, “a bowl of decorated eggs was often kept in the home in the belief that they would keep the family healthy.”
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