The Pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg) tradition appears to be thriving in Canora and the surrounding area.
A Pysanka Workshop was held on March 20 in the basement of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canora, led by Sheila Dmitruik. COVID-19 guidelines were followed.
“It’s important to keep the tradition alive,” said Dmitruik. “I started learning it in Grade 4 while going to school in Canora, and I have continued doing Ukrainian Easter eggs since then. It helps to have a steady hand and plenty of patience.”
It takes about six to eight hours to complete a conventional-size egg.
A total of 18 participants were registered, and Dmitruik said there was sufficient interest that a second workshop is being planned.
Dmitruik has also created Ukrainian Easter egg designs on numerous other types of eggs. She said the largest was an ostrich egg, which the rough equivalent of 24 chicken eggs and takes anywhere from 30 to 40 hours.
Dmitruik explained the general steps involved in creating Ukrainian Easter egg designs:
1). Place the egg on tissues and lightly draw the basic divisions with a pencil, dividing the egg into 16 equal parts, eight sections on each side. You are now ready to apply the wax.
2). With a pencil, divide the eggs one more time. Those lines help to ensure a balanced design. Draw a small circle in the centre of the egg and using the pencil lines as a guide, draw petals in each section. This is the completion of the basic design of the egg.
3). Put the egg on a tablespoon and ease it into a yellow dye. When the desired colour is reached, remove the egg with a spoon and pat dry with tissues, then rack dry the egg for a few minutes. When dying, always start with the lightest colour and work toward the darkest. The darker dyes cover the previous colours except where the previous colour has been protected by a coat of wax.
4). The wax is removed with canola oil.
5). Varnish is then applied to give the eggs luster and protect the colours.
Dmitruik said there is a lengthy tradition behind Ukrainian Easter eggs, and provided related information to participants.
“The egg is an ancient symbol of the life principal. In the rich area of southeastern Europe, where Ukraine is located, pre-Christian people developed a batik (wax-resist) process to decorate the shell of the egg with designs. The decorated egg (or pysanka) was believed to hold great power for love in the world.
“Originally, pysanky (decorated eggs) were used in spring ceremonies to thank the glorious sun for warming the earth after the hard cold winter. When Christianity came to Ukraine in 988 AD, the ritual was absorbed and the pysanka was likened to the tomb from which Christ arose,” Ukrainian Gift Shop, Minneapolis, MN.
Dmitruik said the design options for the eggs are wide ranging, with some of more popular options including: sun, star, heart, fruits, vegetables, animals, ladders, trees, the Lord’s Prayer, the cross and the gates of heaven.
Each design is filled with symbolism. For example, a two-line cross is the simplest form of a star. This cross can represent four cardinal points of reality or the four ages of the world; child, youth, man and elder. It also symbolizes the hub of the universe, and the life-giving energy of the sun.
The next Pysanka Workshop is scheduled for April 17. Registration cost is $20, which includes instruction and all the necessary supplies. For more information, contact Sheila Dmitruik at (306) 562-7313.