Pysanky (singular pysanka) are Ukrainian Easter eggs! Typically they are decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a kistka, a similar tool to those used for batik, another form of wax-resist and dye art. Yesterday, on April 1st, social media was full of people posting about Pysanky for Ukraine Day. This unofficial holiday began in 2014, and I want to tell you all about it!
If you want to donate to one of many worthy organizations, check out my article listing reputable organizations accepting donations to help Ukraine and Ukrainians. For country-specific organizations helping refugees, check out this article written by Mark Baker.
Pysanky for Ukraine Day
Leading up to Pysanky for Ukraine Day, people from all over the world create pysanky. Some use the traditional methods, others opt for modern variants, and the eggs are donated or auctioned off to raise money for Ukraine. A Facebook group has over 7.8 thousand members who share their designs, workshops, and final results.
The word pysanka comes from pysaty, which means writing or inscribing in Ukrainian. The traditional technique is very similar to batik and means that the designs are written with beeswax rather than painted on. Of course, you can participate with less intricate and easier non-traditional designs as well!
Batik is often mentioned when the traditional method of writing pysanky is discussed. But Batik originated in Java, Indonesia, and is made by drawing dots or lines with a canting, spouted tool, or printing with a cap, a copper stamp tool. The main difference is that Batik is done on the cloth while writing pysanky is specific to Easter eggs.
The Legend of Pysanky
Pysanky are beautiful, but a small group of people in Ukraine believe that writing them is essential to saving the world from a serpent-like creature:
“Legend has it that there is a huge evil creature chained to a hillside. Every year when Pysanky are written, the number of eggs is counted. If only a few Pysanky are written, the creature’s bonds are loosened, and evil flows freely throughout the earth.
However, if many eggs are decorated, the creature’s bonds are tightened, and its evil is kept in check for yet another year.”Pysanky by Basia
How to Create Your Own Pysanky
If you want to create pysanky but don’t know where to start, I suggest that you join the Pysanky for Ukraine Facebook group. People in the group post great designs and tips all year long. You can buy some starter tools on Amazon, such as this kit that includes kistkas, beeswax, dyes, and instructions!
There are also other ways to enjoy pysanky if you aren’t super crafty. Buy some on April 1st created by artists who auction them to support Ukraine charities, or check out Etsy and buy them directly from Ukrainians in need. Just for fun, I even bought some wooden eggs on Amazon and used these heat shrink wraps for super easy DIY pysanky with traditional Ukrainian designs!