RSS Feed

Pisanki, Polish Easter Eggs

Several years ago, I ordered a set of pisanki eggs. Some I kept, and others I gave to family. They are truly beautiful, and I enjoy getting them out each year.
Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Pisanki from Krzczonów (Eastern Poland)

 Decorating eggs has been a tradition in Poland for about 1,000 years.

Pisanki, the art of decorating Easter eggs, is practiced in Poland and in several other Eastern European countries. In Polish, the verb “pisac” means “to write,” hence pisanki can be loosely translated as “writing on eggs.”

Natural dyes are prepared from vegetables and other plants. Onion skins are the most common dye,producing shades of brown, bronze and gold. Red cabbage makes a delicate blue dye, while beets yield a pink shade. Tea and coffee are strong brown dyes. Spinach and grass give a gentle green, while berries can produce pinks.

Theresa Child carefully melts pure beeswax in a small jar lid inside a larger jar lid over low heat on a heating element like a kitchen stove, hot plate or candle warmer. Before being heated, the beeswax is a lovely golden color.

Theresa Child Using Melted Beeswax to Make Polish Pisanki Easter Eggs
Barbara Rolek / The Spruce

As it heats, it darkens, which makes it easier to see your designs as you work. Candle wax can’t be used because it’s too soft and wouldn’t hold the design.

Homemade Tool for Polish Pisanki Easter Egg Making

In Poland, Theresa Child’s grandmother used a twig pushed into the end of a pencil eraser to transfer melted beeswax to an egg to create pisanki. When she came to America, she improvised by sticking a straight pin into a pencil eraser. The size of the straight pin head determines the width of the wax line.


Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland

Wooden Polish eggs, or pisanki, are a staple for many preparing an Easter basket to be blessed on Holy Saturday.

Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Preparing the święconka (Easter basket) in the Sierpc Ethnographic Museum.

“Eggs are a representation of the original source of creation. They were decorated with symbols and colors to represent things like fertility, power and life.

Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Blessing of święconki next the church, town of Rabka, image 


But there are some constants. Each color, for instance, has its own unique meaning:

  • White: Purity and birth
  • Yellow: Youth, happiness and reward
  • Green: Fertility, health, hopefulness and wealth
  • Red: Spiritual awakening, joy of life and love
  • Orange: Endurance, strength and ambition
  • Pink: Success and contentment
  • Blue: Good health, truth and fidelity
  • Purple: Faith, trust and patience
  • Brown: Earth, harvest and generosity
  • Black: Eternity and absolutism
Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Colorful malowanki

“Purple and red are definitely the most popular colors. But purple is also the rarest. Bright colors are commonly gifted to children while deeper colors are reserved for adults and black eggs are for the elderly,” noted Parker.

Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Pisanki, via Globtrotter Kraków

There are also recurring symbols, like ducks, birds, lambs, pussy willows and flowers. You may also see “Happy Easter” and its Polish counterpart, “Wesołego Alleluja” adorning the eggs.

Pisanki - the decorated Easter eggs in Poland
Nalepianka from Łowicz

Real pisanki are created by drawing on the eggs with a melted wax and then dipping them into dyes. Come Easter Sunday morning, pisanki are exchanged among family and friends to wish everyone good health and prosperity.

This is such a beautiful art. Have any of you ever created pisanki eggs?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: