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