As a young child I was welcomed into the Eastern rite Catholic Church on the most Holy of Feast Days, Pascha. That would be more commonly known to Roman rite Catholics as Easter. That was many years ago, but I treasure some of the traditions that I grew up with as well as the culture that surrounded us all the time. Icons, incense, beautiful and intrinsically embellished vestments, and chant. On Easter, one thing that was always present were the Krashanky and Pysanky eggs.
The Krashanky are the typical hard-boiled and dyed eggs that were decorated for us to eat at the Great Feast. And the Pysanky eggs were the higly embellished and beautifully painted or died eggs that were in baskets that decorated each table. Along with those things were lots of candles, and a glorious feast of dairy and meat products. To this day, Pascha remains my favorite Feast Day of the year because of the care and flourish with which it was always celebrated. In no way do I put on such a show; there were several dozen people who put in much time and effort within our small parish to decorate and bake and cook. Some things remain a constant—a desire for beautiful decorations and wonderful food, but on a much smaller and more manageable scale for my small family.
I was always taken with the Pysanky eggs. I loved to inspect each one. I remember one time one of the many monks (yes, our parish was also a Monastery) taking time to explain to me the symbolism behind the decorations on the eggs. There was meaning behind it, which I found fascinating. It wasn’t just a random bit of decorating and geometric shapes, but some were inscribed with Greek or Ukrainian and had ancient Christian symbolism in the design. For more on the meaning behind the symbolism you can read here and here about that.
This is a really simple craft that I came up with that was inspired by those beloved Pysanky eggs. It’s nowhere near as fine-tuned as those intricate eggs, but it is a quick, fun, and easy craft that you can do with your family.
You can use a milk jug, that has a milky white color to it and has a little texture. This allows you to use kid colored markers, and helps the colors be more bold. You can also use a clear plastic from a food container or lid. The clear plastic is smoother and works better with permanent markers. If you trust your kids with the permanent makers, I’d chose them so that your colors are more brilliant when they hang in your window.
Next cut your egg shapes. I free handed mine. Obviously some ended up being more oval than egg-shaped. The kids didn’t seem to mind!
The next step is choosing the design. You can find many templates online, and coloring pages. Simply lay your plastic egg over the top and trace it with your puffy paint. You can use black or white paint. I’ve seen eggs with designs in both colors. For the white egg, I actually traced over the design first before cutting it out. I let it dry over night and then cut it out once it was completely dried. Let your designs dry in a breeze-free environment. Overnight is best so that you are certain to have a dried template to color on.
And get to coloring!
Once your little eggs are all colored and dried you can hang them in your window, along your mantle, or wherever you’d like. See if you can incorporate some meaningful symbols into them to signify Christ’s Resurrection, or some of the early Christian symbols like the cross or fish to give your designs more meaning and significance.
May you be blessed in the coming Paschal Season!