We can almost feel the breeze of spring in the air, and for many Catholics throughout the world, spring time means Easter. But while many of us are content with dying eggs with pastel food coloring, Eastern Europe has much, much more to offer.
But first, a question: If someone sent you an Easter postcard with the following message, would you be able to read it?
Don’t worry, after reading this you'll be an encoding pro!
Signs and symbols have been the means of ancient communication for ages. These particular signs and many others are used in Ukrainian pysanky and mean wishes for good health, fortune, and prosperity. Pysanky is the ancient Eastern European art of egg decorating, and Ukrainian pysanky are famous throughout the world. The name comes from the verb to write (pysaty), as you use a stylus to write with wax on the egg shell.
Ukrainian Easter egg decorating has been handed down through generations of Ukrainian people. Over 2,000 years ago, before the time of Christ, people decorated eggs believing that great powers were embodied in the egg. Eggs symbolized the release of the earth from the shackles of winter and the coming of spring with its promise of new hope, life, and prosperity. With the advent of Christianity, Easter eggs came to symbolize the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life. Legend has it that as long as pysanky are decorated, goodness will prevail over evil throughout the world.
A completed Ukrainian pysanka may look like one of these:
(photo credit: Luba Petrusha)
While a standard pysanka is the size of an egg, some countries are known for building the world's largest pysanky. For example, a 13-meter pysanka was built in the year 2000 in Ukraine in the city of Kolomyya as a part of the museum structure. Almost 45 feet – pretty amazing!
So, if you would like to get a little more creative this year and send either an Easter postcard or an egg, be proactive and intrigue the recipient with one of the messages encoded in signs. To get you started, here are a few examples of other commonly used pysanka signs.
If you love the sound of pysanka like we do, then you'd love our Ukrainian course. Click below to start learning, just in time for Easter.