Pysanky eggs

18 April 2014

For as long as I can remember, Easter in our house did not mean Easter baskets (we didn’t get them, much to our dismay at the time – but we did do a jelly bean hunt in the living room). More than the jelly beans, though, Easter meant pysanky eggs from Bingie, our mom’s mom.

psyanky eggs

A pysanka is a traditional Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated with folk designs written in beeswax. From my birth until a few years ago, my grandmother painstakingly made all of her grandchildren a new design each year, and we loved to look at our collection when we took them out of their crates in the spring. Each egg was marked with our name or initials, her initials, and the year. She also made them for special friends on occasion, and over time, they became one of her claims to fame in her small town.

psyanky-eggs

At her memorial service last year, her pastor compared her to one of her eggs – beautiful and complicated, full of history and stories, and sometimes volatile. (The eggs, which are not blown out, have been known to explode!) My grandmother was a deeply layered person, and not always easy to understand. But so many of the things that define me were passed down from her – my love of garden bouquets, boat rides, singing in church, and books; a belief in thank you notes, penmanship, and family china; and the importance of standing up for the flag at parades and giving to your alma mater. I am glad I have something tangible and so beautiful to remember her by, especially at Easter.

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The worst thing is never the last thing, friends. Wishing you a joyful weekend!

8 Responses to “Pysanky eggs”

  1. Lara

    So beautiful and special. And I love your words: “The worst thing is never the last thing.”

  2. Beautifully written, Em. Thanks for sharing this piece of your family’s story with us.

  3. Samantha

    I love this post, Emily! Thanks for sharing – Happy Easter to you!

  4. Peggy

    Em-Not long ago I stumbled across some pictures taken at Bingie’s house in March 1982. I was there with 2 other friends “doing” NYC. A few pictures show Bingie working on these eggs. I will send them to your mother :-)

    Happy Easter!

  5. Rob

    Her eggs were/are beautiful — a true work of craftsmanship and love — but so fragile!

  6. Beth

    Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories! So unfortunate that they were so fragile. I’m afraid in a few years I won’t have any left.

    And sorry about the Easter baskets…

  7. elly

    Thanks for sharing the story of the pysanka eggs. As another Ukrane, my mother did not make homemade eggs, but her sister, my Aunt, did. All have passed on now, and after reading your story, I might research and give it a try next Easter. My daughters are in college now, and that might be something they could appreciate in a few years.
    A very nice story and photos.