Easter has always been my favorite holiday because it’s when I feel most connected to my family and our Ukrainian heritage. I love the beautiful melodies of our Easter Liturgy, the sweet smell of blessed Paska bread, and my favorite custom, the creation of intricately designed pysanky, or more commonly, Ukrainian easter eggs. My great grandparents emigrated from the Ukraine to Pennsylvania and while I don’t know their language or the details of where they lived in the old country, making pysanky provides me with some insight into their lives. My Great Aunt Catherine, who created the pysanka pictured, taught me that the eggs are not painted, but rather written on and dyed. The symbolic designs are created with beeswax, a stylus and a candle. Slowly and patiently staring at the candle, waiting for the beeswax to melt and fill the air with its warm aroma, I use the symbols and colors to write stories about what I imagine my ancestors’ lives were like. Poppies depict wisdom and beauty, rakes for a bountiful crop, and bands are drawn around the egg to symbolize the eternity of time. An entire landscape of the past is revealed on the egg. I love to gift them to my family and look forward to teaching my own children how to create their own stories.

Place(s): Ukraine
Year: 1985

– Julia Mushalko

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more