Ukrainian Easter eggs keep evil in check

13:25, 13 April 2009
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According to Hutsul, Ukrainians who live in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine, folklore, it is believed that the fate of the world depends on the pysanka — as long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist...

Ron Horoshko has been doing Ukrainian Easter eggs for 35 years and doesn’t have a penny to show for it.

“It’s always given away,” Horoshko said. “I learned how to do this from my grandfather and my father who were from Kiev, and I’m keeping the tradition of giving away the eggs.”

Horoshko was helping residents at the Regency at Pua Kea prepare Ukrainian Easter eggs, or pysanky, for themselves as well as for their children. He said he’s been to the Puhi facility helping residents from the time it opened five years ago.

Ukrainian Easter eggs always use raw eggs, Horoshko noting that white eggs work better. He suggested that once completed, the eggs be displayed at room temperature where the insides eventually dry out to become dust.

“The eggs, when completed, are not edible because the dyes are from the Ukraine and are not meant to be eaten,” he said. “One of the characteristics of the Ukraine dyes is its brilliant color that is brought out using olive oil.”

Each of the egg tells a story and the practice dates back to ancient times, states an online source. Like many of the ancient cultures, the Ukrainians worshipped a sun god, Dazhboh, and the people considered the sun important because it warmed the earth and was a source of all life.

Eggs decorated with nature symbols became an integral part of spring rituals, serving s benevolent talismans.

“If you were a farmer, you draw grain and other designs familiar to farmers,” Horoshko said. “If you were a fisherman, you would have fish and other sea designs on your egg. All of this would be given away during the five weeks that Easter is celebrated in the Ukraine.”

According to Hutsul, Ukrainians who live in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine, folklore, it is believed that the fate of the world depends on the pysanka — as long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist.

If the custom is abandoned, evil — in the shape of a serpent chained to a cliff — will overrun the world. Every year, the serpent sends out his minions to see how many pysanky are created. If the number is low, the chains are loosened and evil wanders the earth. If the number is high, the chains are tightened and good triumphs over evil for another year.

This is just one of the folklore surrounding the practice of pysanky.

“In the Ukraine, we were very poor and we colored the eggs to give away to neighbors and friends,” Horoshko said. “Today, there have been many people who have offered to pay for these eggs, but I’m keeping the tradition of giving them away.”

Horoshko said he’s had appearances on television shows where he relates the saga of the Ukrainian Easter eggs, and he’s done work for friends’ businesses who were attracted by the bright colors and designs.

As he helped the residents, the bright colors and designs attracted Regency staff members who passed by and Horoshko invited them to be part of the pysanky creation.

“Ukrainian Easter eggs are fun to do and give away,” Horoshko said. “This is my most favorite time of the year.”

By Dennis Fujimoto - The Garden Island

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