Monday, March 17, 2008
parents on mom's side were from eastern Europe - grandpop was born in what is now the southern part of Poland, close to the Slovak border, grandmother in Vishna Polyanka, in what is now Slovakia in the Tatra Mountains, close to the Polish/Slovak border. They met in the US, and my grandmother, in particular, retained "old world ways." They were Ukrainians, born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There's a nice post about my grand parents here.
I was long familiar with pysanky made [usually] during lent and Holy Week. It can take many hours to make one egg. That Paz egg dye stuff ain't gonna cut it. You need clean eggs (duh) -- a proper metal stylus or two, beeswax, really good dyes and a lot of patience, and a steady hand. Usually the women make them, but sometimes men do too. Back before the days of TV the peasants needed something to do during those long dark nights.
I was in my late 20s when my mom coughed it up that, yes, indeed she knew how to make them, but wasn't as good as her sister, Mary. (Also my godmother.) So I had my aunt send the proper tools and with a little instruction from mom, got around, belatedly to making some. Haven't had time to make any in the last couple of years, but the photo shows a few I've made. There's also a nice design I have with an onion domed church, I was showing them to the sainted Father S. the other week and gave him one of those. By custom the priest is given one at Easter - and when people die, they are often placed in coffins - which I had also done when my own mom had died.
I found a website which gives some basic instructions. It can take a good 4 hours or more to make a good egg. I learned to improvise a few things myself re: blowing out the egg without cracking it or taking all day to trickle out. (The trick is you gently SHAKE the sucker BEFORE you put a tiny pin hole top, and a somewhat larger one at bottom. Break the yoke first, dummies! ;-D ) Believe me, nothing worse then putting in four hours or more of work to mess up that part! "oh, well!"
Typically, a few are placed in the Easter Basket of food that gets blessed on Holy Saturday. The whole basket of goodies (which often includes such items as freshly baked bread, butter lambs, kielbasa and all sorts of thing) is often covered by a beautiful hand embroidered cloth. Now that's one skill I for sure don't have, though I have messed around with cross stitching a bit. "Miss Patience" only has so much!
BTW, the plate the pysanky are sitting on is one of my "Sunday china" plates. I've also got "everyday" plates, and another set of plates for holidays.