St. John the Divine Orthodox Church
Archdiocese of Canada -- Orthodox Church in America
1094 Drouillard Road, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

On Saturday April 12, 2014, there will be Divine Liturgy @ 10:30am. Afterwards, following a light lenten lunch, the Ladies of St. John will gather to do some housekeeping/cleaning to prepare the Church for Pascha. We will also be making Palm Crosses for blessing and distribution on Sunday April 13, 2014, Palm Sunday.

Please come out and join us :)

March 20, 2014, Making Pysanky

The word pysanky comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax.

Many eastern European ethnic groups decorate eggs using the wax resist method for Easter/Pascha.

Each region, each village, and almost every family had its own special ritual, its own symbols, meanings and secret formulas for dyeing eggs. These customs were preserved faithfully and passed down from mother to daughter through generations. The custom of decorating pysanky was observed with the greatest of care.

Pysanky were traditionally made during the last week of Lent, Holy Wee, in the Orthodox Tradition. They were made by the women of the family. During the middle of the Lenten season, women began putting aside eggs, those that were most perfectly shaped and smooth, and ideally, the first laid eggs of yound hens.

The dyes were prepared from dried plants, roots, bark, berries, and insects. The dyes were prepared in secret, using recipes handed down from mother to daughter. Sometimes chemical dyes (unusual or difficult colours) were purchased from peddlers along with alum, a mordant that helped the natural dyes adhere better to the eggshells. A stylus was and still is used to apply the wax to the eggshell.

The pysanky were made at night, when the children were asleep. The women in the family gathered together, said the appropriate prayers, and went to work. It was all done in secret--the pattern and colour combinations were carefully guarded.

Pysanky were made sing a was resist method. Beeswax was heated in a small bowl on the large family stove and the styluses were dipped into it. The molten wax was applied to the white egg with a writing motion; any bit of shell covered with wax would be sealed, and remain white. Then the egg was dyed yellow, and more wax applied, and then orange, red, purple, black. The dye sequence is always light to dark. Bits of shell covered with wax remained that color. After the final colour, usually red, brown, or black, the wax was removed by heating the egg in the stove or over a candle flame, then gently wiping off the melted wax.

Pysanky are typically made to be given to family members and respected friends. To give a pysanky is to give a symbolic gift of life, which is why the egg must remain whole. Furthermore, each of the designs and colours on the pysanky is likely to have a deep, symbolic meaning. Traditionally, pysanky designs are chosen to match the character of the person to whom they pysanky is to be given. Typically, pysanky are displayed prominently in a public room of the house.

In a large family, by Holy Thursday, 60 or more eggs would have been completed by the women of the house. The more daughters a family had, the more pysanky would be produced. The eggs would then be taken to the church on Pascha to be blessed, after which they were given away.

Everyone from the youngest to the oldest received a pysanky for Easter. Young people were given pysanky with bright designs; dark pysanky were given to older people.

More Pysanky Pictures

Our talented Instructor, Nada
Nada, Victoria, and Isaac
Nada, Mat Pat, Kim, Victoria, Leslie, and Lorraine