Christyna Prokipchuk loves the tradition of Ukrainian Easter eggs.
Called a pysanka, a decorated Ukrainian egg is created with writing in beeswax, rather than painting, Prokipchuk explained to students of Royal Oak Community School Wednesday, as they gathered to learn the tradition and create a Ukrainian Easter egg themselves, using a pencil, hot wax and dye, while learning the history of the tradition.
Although she was born in Canada, her father was born in Ukraine, as were her grandparents on both sides.
Prokipchuk provided templates for the traditional designs, or symbols, which the students first drew on a raw egg, then used a wooden stylus and a wax puck to outline the designs with wax, heated over a candle flame.
With teachers and parent volunteers to help, the students followed the steps as shown, producing eggs that were soaked in dye, then heated in an oven to melt the wax. Prokipchuk explained that although the tradition began in the pre-Christian era, the symbolism has evolved throughout the centuries, and continues to be relevant to this day, each symbol considered a word in a story.
She gestured to the students gathered at long tables in Addison Hall at St. Mark’s Church, describing their afternoon as “an authentic experience,” similar to friends and family members gathered around a table creating eggs as they chat and exchange stories, around the world, and here in Niagara, especially with Ukrainian Easter coming up this Sunday, April 24. And as history has evolved and the eggs continue to be made, she says, “they have a bigger, more universal meaning,” especially today.
“They represent things like community, protection, and solidarity, evolving, aging, and always relevant,” never more so than today, with the evident strength of Ukrainian people, and the global community that is supporting them.
Flowers are a common symbol, she said, as are oak leaves — two she chose for the students — a rose, a symbol of beauty, on one side of the egg, and the oak leaf on the other, with an acorn a sign of rebirth and strength, especially appropriate for the Royal Oak students.
Grade 3 student Riley said after the eggs were completed he loved learning more about the art of Ukrainian Easter eggs and their culture, and celebrating the tradition, “even though there are difficult things happening in Ukraine right now.”
Ruby, a student in Grade 7, said she was “happy to be able to do something joyful to support people experiencing something so sad in Ukraine.”