Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PYSANKA: A UKRAINIAN CELEBRATION OF LIFE

Have you ever read Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Palacco?  It's a heart-warming story featuring a goose and some beautiful Ukrainian "Pysanky" eggs.  
I've got some other picture book recommendations that feature these special eggs, but first I thought I'd share some information about the symbolism and history behind this art.

I learned a lot about it last weekend when I attended a Lenten Pysanka workshop. The instructor, Adriana, brought a whole basket of her little masterpieces to show us.  It was hard to believe we were about to attempt to paint some ourselves!  Here's what we learned...

"At one time, the egg was associated with pagan rituals and superstitions, symbolizing the release of the earth from the shackles of winter into spring; with its promise of new hope, new life, health and prosperity. 
In 988 AD when Ukraine accepted Christianity, the decorating of eggs took on a deep religious meaning. The PYSANKA commemorated the Resurrection of Christ, and a promise of eternal life. The pagan superstitions were replaced by religious beliefs and legends."

The geometric motifs are the same as found in many forms of primitive art, but their use in PYSANKY gives them specific names and symbolic meanings. Ribbons and belts that encircle the egg with no beginning or end symbolize eternity. Triangles symbolize trios, such as the circle of life of birth, life, death; the Holy Trinity, and the natural elements of fire, air, and water. Stars once symbolized the pagan gods, and now stand for life, growth and good fortune. The cross appears in many forms and symbolizes the four corners of the world, and Christianity."

[Go to Adriana's website for more information here.]

You can watch this video of the whole Pysanka egg painting process that Adriana did for our local news program below:

Here's a photo of my egg, just after it's been plunged down into the blue dye.  The next step will be to expose the egg to a heat source and rub off the wax...
...and here's the finished product!
MY BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS:
Easter Eggs for Anya, by Virginia Kroll, illustrations by Sally Wern Comport.  This sweet story follows Anya as she prays for her family's farm, which is struggling since her father is away at war. She is upset after a fox attacks a goose that has been guarding its nest, as suddenly the nest of goose eggs is left abandoned and cold.  But then she realizes that she will at least have some eggs to decorate as Pysanky for Easter.  You'll be surprised when she wakes up on Easter morning to some new beginnings! (ages 4-8)

Click on the thumbnail photo to see details about each of the books below:
Rechenka's Eggs, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco.

The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story, by Eric A. Kimmel. Pictures by Katya Krenina

Nina's Treasuresby Stefan Czernecki, illustrated by Timothy Rhodes.

2 comments:

acornmoon said...

I did not know about the triangle and what it represents, thanks for sharing.

Your egg is wonderful, I hope you have it somewhere safe!

Jane G Meyer said...

All my kids have loved Rechenka's Eggs. A truly sweet story and so fun to try to read with a Russian grandma's accent :)