Ukrainian eggs also known as Pysanky aren't just for Easter anymore!
The designs date to the Pagan era when the stars, the sun, the moon, the earth, the plants, the animals, fire and water were worshiped and revered by all. According to Pagan worship of the sun in Ukraine, during the season of spring, the sun brought back life to the earth. The days were brighter, warmer and longer. The earth's soil was fertile again causing the trees, the fields, and the flowers to blossom. The wild animals appeared again and began mating and giving birth. Eggs were a symbol of fertility and life. Since the egg brings into existence new life, it was considered an amulet or a charm that averted misfortune and brought good luck.
The practice of giving pysanky became part of the Ukrainian tradition and also served as a means of preserving and continuing the art of pysanky itself. For centuries the designs and symbols used on pysanky were handed down from mother to daughter. The cultural heritage of the Ukrainian nation was entrusted this way.
When the equinox neared and later, after Christianity, when Easter neared, women would set to work creating just the right pysanka for each loved one. Ukrainian eggs or Pysanky used to be made at night by women only when the rest of the household was asleep.No one was allowed to observe her creating her pysanka since the sole purpose of pysanky art was to ward off evil. She would speak certain prayers to ensure that this pysanka would bring wealth, protection or other goodwill to the recipient. This was a mystical expression of the Ukrainian people. The concept has evolved and now, although there are some who maintain a strict traditionalist view, pysanky has joined the ranks of other art forms as a personal expression of the individual artist. But what hasn’t changed are the links to an ancient culture and all the symbolism and heritage those links imply.
White (hard to show up here) - Purity, birth, virginity, and ignorance.
Lavender - Patience, power, royalty.
Yellow - Spirituality, youth, light, purity, happiness, wisdom. Green - Youth, growing, renewal, freshness, hope (in Christianity, victory of life over death.)
Red - Beauty, love, passion, enthusiasm.
Orange - Endurance, strength, power.
Brown - Earth
Blue - Sky and good health from good air
These are some meanings of some of the symbols:
The egg itself represents life and with the eternal cycle of creation
Birds - Fertility
Deer - Wealth/Prosperity
Horns - Nobility, wisdom, and triumph over problems
Roosters - Symbols of good fortune, masculinity, or the coming of dawn.
Hens - Represent fertility.
Butterflies - The ascent of the soul and the pleasure of childhood
Spiders - Patience, artistry, and industry
Leaves & flowers - Life/Growth
Circles - Protection and everlasting life, continuity, and completeness, as well as the sun
Suns - The life-giving, all-embracing, all-renewing nature of God Stars and roses - Purity, life, the giver of light, divine will of God, and God's love for humanity (John 3:16).
Wheat - Bountiful Harvest
Rakes -Successful harvest
Plant symbols - Stand for rebirth and nature
Trees - strength, renewal, creation, growth and eternal life
Leaves - Immortality, eternal or pure love, strength and persistence.
Flowers - Beauty, children, the female principles of wisdom
Fruit - Continuity, good fellowship, strong and loyal love, and love of GodGrapevine - Good fruits of the Christian life.
Triangle - The Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)and the elements of air, fire and water.
Lines, waves, ribbons encircling the egg - (In any style) Everlasting life
Ladders - Prayers going up to heaven.
The 8-pointed star - Ancient symbol for Jesus Christ.
Dots or small circles - Mary's tears or the sun.
Curls - Symbols for protection.
Spirals - The mystery of life and death, as well as divinity and immortality.
Netting - Jesus was "Fisher of men" (and still is).
Cross - Jesus died on the cross for our sins, His crucifixion Fish (IKTHYS)- Greek symbol for Christianity (secret symbol..used by the early Christians)
The real Pysanky Ukrainian Eggs are beautiful but take some work to master the process. Why not design Ukrainian eggs on paper by drawing an oval and using the colors and symbols listed above. Design an egg for everyone in your family to bring them good health, luck or whatever you would want to wish for them. Remeber they don't just have to be given at Easter time.