Goshen church, Elkhart museum demonstrate Ukrainian Easter egg tradition

Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Midwest Museum of American Art are keeping the tradition of pysanky alive.

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 9:32 p.m.

GOSHEN — An old Ukrainian tradition of decorating Easter eggs with intricate patterns and vibrant bursts of color lives on in Goshen.

Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church hosted a workshop Saturday, April 5, where Lydia Karpenko taught the art of creating pysanky, Easter eggs decorated using a wax-resist technique.

Molten wax is painted onto the eggs using a stylus and then dipped into dye. Each egg tells a story or symbolizes a Christian theme.

“A lot of the early symbols were symbols from nature,” said Olga Stickel, who helped out at the workshop. “The egg became a sign of rebirth and resurrection, so it was adopted by the Christians as a Christian symbol. These eggs were traditionally given out as gifts.”

Karen Ditmars, who lives near Middlebury, decided to give it a try Saturday.

“Mine has fish and crosses on it,” she said.

Ditmars picked out the designs from a book filled with traditional pysanky patterns provided by Karpenko. Ukrainians in the western part of the country tend to use geometric shapes with their eggs, and people in eastern Ukraine paint more elaborate ornamental designs, Karpenko said.

“Just like the United States, if you go to Georgia or you go to California, there are different foods and cultures,” she said. “That is the same way in Ukraine.”

Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 61314 C.R. 21, will hold a second pysanky workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 12. The event is $15 for adults and $6 for children 12 and younger. To register, call 537-1975 or 707-5728.

Gale Balmer will demonstrate the Ukrainian tradition for free from 1 to 3 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 13, at the Midwest Museum of American Art, 429 S. Main St. in Elkhart. Balmer’s finished work will be available for purchase.

Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.


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