Ukrainian egg decoratingDICKINSON, N.D. - It’s a tough word to say, but once you learn how to make a Pysanka, the results can be beautiful.
By: John Odermann The Dickinson Press, Worthington Daily Globe
DICKINSON, N.D. - It’s a tough word to say, but once you learn how to make a Pysanka, the results can be beautiful.
The Ukrainian Cultural Institute held one of its annual Pysanka workshops, where interested individuals could learn how to make the uniquely Ukrainian Easter eggs.
The eggs, which are made using a combination of wax and dye, can be as simple or intricate as the artist desires.
“Every design has a meaning,” said Ruth Radebaugh, who taught Saturday’s Pysanka class at the UCI, adding they classes are given annually to try to “just keep the tradition going.”
To start, an artist takes a raw egg and applies the wax to whichever area they wish to remain white, Radebaugh said. Then yellow dye is applied, followed by wax on whichever is planned to stay yellow and so on and so forth as subsequently darker dyes are applied to the egg.
The different colors symbolize different things, including:
* White – purity, birth
* Yellow – wisdom, successful harvest
* Green – rebirth of nature and the wealth of the animal kingdom
* Blue – sky, air, good health, magic
* Orange – power, endurance, ambition
* Brown – good harvest, mother earth
* Purple – faith trust
* Pink – success
* Black – darkest time before dawn, eternity
Agnes Palanuk with the UCI said the class is important because it gives someone a point to start from, because being an expert Pysanka artist comes with practices.
“That’s the only way you can get good at it. You have to learn your control,” Palanuk said. “You really have to want to do it. It isn’t something you do for fun of it.”
Palanuk said the UCI has been giving Pysanka classes since it organized in 1980 to help carry on the tradition, which started in the Ukraine centuries ago.
Ukrainians even made the eggs before the celebrated Easter, Palanuk said.
“They were doing it even before Christianity came,” Palanuk said. “They were honoring things in nature, like birds and flowers and clouds and moons and things.”
Following their conversion to Christianity the Ukrainians etched Christian symbols onto the eggs in an effort to keep the tradition alive, Palanuk said.
Palanuk said Easter eggs are a symbol of resurrection and spring, but the Pysanka has also become an unofficial symbol of southwestern North Dakota.
“It’s a part of our life. Almost every Ukrainian home will have Pysanka in it,” Palanuk said, adding that several speakers who have visited Dickinson and the surrounding areas have been given Pysankas as a symbolic gift from the area.