Easter: Pysanky Parties

Easter, with preparations in Michigan and celebrations in Connecticut. And lots and lots of eggs.

The Ann Arbor bunch.

The Ann Arbor bunch. The fish, the flowers/wheat on the top right and the star design below are all mine. Nicole’s dove also came out beautifully!

The day I moved into my apartment in Ann Arbor, I met one of my next door neighbors, and low and behold, our first conversation quickly touched on the topic of pysanky — the Ukrainian Easter eggs as featured above. Nicole noted that she had the dye and the materials, and we set tentative plans for decorating when the time was right. A couple weeks before Easter, just after Caroline took off to return from California, we got started on our plans. We created a number of masterpieces and spent many pleasant hours chatting and dying. Sarah, my classmate in Ukrainian last year, also stopped by for our first serious day.


It’s hard to explain, but I find the process extremely relaxing. You do the layers one by one — first covering all the parts you want white with beeswax, then dying all remaining parts yellow. Then covering all that you want to be yellow, and moving on to orange, and so on and so forth, until you finally finish with black. Once the egg is black, you slowly and carefully remove the beeswax.

Sarah finishing up the egg.

Sarah finishing up the egg.

Various eggs below:


Mostly mine, except the teal egg and the cross egg (which has the dove on the other side).

We most definitely got better with time and practice.  The shabby yellow and red one above (top right) was my first this year. This was the last one I did in Ann Arbor.

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By the time Easter actually rolled around, we had quite the collection, as the first picture documents. This year, my plans of celebrating with my family were sadly spoiled (Easter with the Whittingtons is all kinds of fun — exhibits A and B) when my family decided to go to Haiti. Though I missed spending Easter with my family, I was very happy to have had the opportunity to head East for the holiday, spending it with Maki’s family in New Haven.

New Haven, Connecticut.

New Haven, Connecticut.

I arrived late on Friday, and Maki and I spent a lovely time with his cousins, aunt and uncle, parents, and, to everyone’s great fortune, his grandmother. Saturday involved yet another pysanka, as well as the trip to church for the blessing of the Easter baskets.

2012-03-30 easter 05


The Dobczansky/Melnyk/Hankewych basket:

2012-03-30 easter 03

Complete with my (not quite finished–you can see the black of the beeswax on the wheat) New Haven egg:

2012-03-30 easter 06

Maki’s came out really nicely too — but sadly, I didn’t get the final product.

2012-03-30 easter 23


I caught a train back to NYC on that evening, and was pleased to be able to have a nice dinner with Alana, whom I hadn’t seen in a year and a half. We caught up, and before we knew it, Maki joined us, his flight out of New Haven having been canceled and rebooked out of New York the next morning. This was the view that we woke up to. Columbia Heights might not be the center of the NYC universe, but the view is pretty awesome.

2012-04-01 nyc 02


But with that, it was back to Michigan to finish up the end of a long semester. A weekend made all the more special because it was, as it sadly turned out, the last one to be spent with Maki’s grandmother. For indeed, it is under much more solemn circumstances the family will gather once again at the end of this week to commemorate a life well lived.





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