The Easter Egg: The true meaning
The ancient art of the Ukrainian Easter Egg is explained in this whole class art & letter writing activity (no real eggs involved!)
The ancient art of Ukrainian Easter Egg or pysanka “writing” (a literal translation from Ukrainian) is more than just an egg with a pretty design. It is more akin to a traditional greeting card that is made for a specific person with a unique message. The message is held is the colors and designs chosen by the creator.
Just as you would not give a “Get Well Soon” card to someone on their birthday, careful thought must be given to each individual egg or “pysanka” as it is called in Ukrainian.
The symbols used on traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs are rooted in nature as much of Ukraine, also known as “the breadbasket of Europe”, was an agrarian society.
There are a variety of different symbols used when writing pysanka. In fact, each region has its own unique designs. Many of the symbols are stylized versions rather than real lifelike drawings. They typically fall under the categories of geometric motifs, plant motifs, and animal motifs.
This product includes: a chart of symbols and meaning, a chart of color meanings, a template for student use, a sample model of an egg and accompanying letter, letter template and Final Evaluation Rubric.
Once students complete their pysanka, it is time for them to write a letter to the person for whom they have created it since the recipient will not be familiar with the symbolism. In the letter they will explain their choice of color, design motifs with specific details for the person.
I have attached a sample letter that I have written to go along with the sample pysanka to share with students. Teachers may choose to have their students use the worksheet template to write their letter. Older students may copy the intro in their own handwriting to make the letter more personal.
My Background and Inspiration for this Lesson : I was taught how to write pysanky by my Baba (grandmother) who was from the Bukovyna region of Western Ukraine. When my father was young, he remembers her standing by her wood stove in their kitchen making the eggs.
I have continued this ancient tradition and ended up being on the cover of our local newspaper when a pysanka and letter I made for a friend who was recovering from breast cancer was circulated through the community.
I wrote an article about my pysanka that was published in a national women’s magazine. I received countless letters that were forwarded to me from the publisher about how my story resonated with many including those in Ukrainian seniors’ homes.
I started to do the lesson with my own class and very soon after, other teachers were covering my class while I went into their class to do the lesson.
The lesson is always enjoyed by my students and I am delighted when I receive notes from parents. Many save them as a special keepsake.
I hope you enjoy this Easter activity with your students as much as I have.
Happy Easter and Happy Teaching!
Kat, The Educationist
Check back often and I am adding new items to the store all the time.
Visual Arts, Religion, Art History, Easter, Letter Writing