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Ancient tradition offers message of hope

Pysanky Easter egg decorating class offered by St. Stephen’s Episcopal church Sunday afternoon

Posted: March 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.

In preparation for the upcoming Easter holiday, St. Stephen's is hosting a special Pysanky Easter egg decorating class Sunday afternoon. Barbara Wampole and Theresa Morales will instruct attendees in the time-honored and specialized art of Pysanky.

 

In the next few weeks brightly colored Easter eggs will adorn baskets and play a role in Easter egg hunts across the valley. St. Stephen’s Episcopal church is offering a different Easter egg tradition, the Pysanky Easter egg.

In preparation for the upcoming Easter holiday, St. Stephen’s is hosting a special Pysanky Easter egg decorating class tomorrow afternoon. Barbara Wampole and Theresa Morales will instruct attendees in the time-honored and specialized art of Pysanky.

Pronounced with all short vowel sounds, Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs decorated using a specialized wax and dye layering method.

The unique form of egg decorating is far from the commercialized versions many of us know today.

The tradition of creating Pysanky dates back thousands of years, even to pre-Christian times. Inspired by Ukrainian folklore, beliefs in the magical and a connection to themes of spring, renewal, rebirth and resurrection has become a revered art form.

“The idea of making imagery on eggs is extremely ancient,” said Barbara Wampole. “It’s a form of a visual language, a spiritual art form.”

Over the years, eggs have played an important role in symbolizing new life and rebirth. A theme which also honors the upcoming Easter holiday which celebrates the Christian tradition of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Pysanky are a form of blessing and were traditionally used to offer gratitude” said Wampole.

Wampole instructs students on how to use the materials to decorate the eggs. She recommends using blown out chicken eggs, but any type of egg can be used.

St. Stephen’s has offered this class, open to the public, for the last six years. It is held in the Upstairs Lounge of the church Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. for adults only.

Wampole explained Pysanky were traditionally used throughout the year. They were adorned in homes to ward off evil and share a message of love.

They were also given as gifts during harvest, spring equinox, new births and other commemorative times. It was a way for those who created the eggs to offer a blessing, sentiments of caring and good will to another person.

Pysanky still represents the idea of birth and new life. At St. Stephen’s it is also used as a way to spread joy, love and hope around Easter.

Today, those who learn Pysanky continue to offer them as gifts to others. The eggs are adorned with intricate designs, shapes, symbols of Easter, and other symbols decorators wish to use. Every shade of color can be used, including black.

“This is people doing art in it’s simplest form, a healing expression of caring from one person to the next,” said Wampole about her vision for the class.

Wampole first learned Pysanky more than 15 years ago. As a longtime member of St. Stephen’s she introduced the church to the tradition during a women’s retreat 15 years ago. Later, organizers decided a class offered around Easter time would make a perfect addition to other Easter themed events at the church.

“Pysanky are a symbol of optimism and hope,” she explained. “That is what Easter is all about.”

 

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