Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, which is the 21st of March. So the earliest date for Easter is the 22nd of March and the latest date is the 25th of April.
In English the word Easter comes from the name of the pagan goddess of dawn or spring – Eastre or Eostre and her festival was in spring time and hence this old word has stuck.
In Polish the name is Wielkanoc – which translates as Great Night – as it is the night of The Resurrection.
Eggs at Easter were originally a pagan tradition as symbols of fertility, rebirth and the revival of nature and heralded in the start of spring.
The tradition was absorbed by Christianity and the egg is now the symbol of the tomb and as the chick hatches from the egg with life so it symbolises the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pisanki are the decorated eggs you find in Poland. The word comes from the Polish verb pisać which nowadays means to write, however in old Polish it also meant to paint.
There are many different ways of decorating eggs and each of these has its own specific name – one method uses beeswax and dyes are used to give wax resist patterns – another scratches away the dye to revel the original shell colour.
In Kraków there is the Museum of Ethnography, founded in 1902, which has superb displays of intricate and beautiful pisanki through the ages – well worth a visit.
Below are photographs of an egg which was decorated using the beeswax and dye method – onion skins in this case. It belongs to the Director of the Leeds Polish Saturday School and was one of many made two years ago with instructions from a visiting tutor at a workshop session for the teachers and pupils at the school.
I make very simple coloured eggs by hard boiling eggs with onion skins.
Boiling eggs with brown onion skins dyes the egg shells a rich brown colour.
Boiling eggs with red onion skins dyes the egg shells a dark red-brown colour.
You can buy sheets of coloured paper dyes which give a range of colours – safe edible dyes of course – I have tried these in the past but now just use onions as they are always in my vegetable basket.
When hard boiling eggs use eggs that are at least three days old as very fresh eggs are hard to peel.
These hard boiled eggs form part of the basket of food which is taken to church on the Saturday before Easter to be blessed see Palm Sunday & Holy Saturday.
The blessed eggs are peeled and cut into quarters to be shared at the Easter Breakfast with all the people present.
Other non- blessed hard boiled eggs are used in a game of tapping eggs together to see which one cracks first.
A wooden imitation of these lovely decorated eggs is now a very popular item for sale throughout the year in Poland. It is a something that many tourists buy to take home.
Pisanki for sale in Kraków
My Wooden Pisanki
Wooden Eggs belonging to my friend in Leeds
In these the wooden eggs have been painted and carved to expose the pale wood imitating the method of scratching with a fine tool the paint or dye and exposing the egg shell colour of real eggs
The photographs are taken from recent Easter cards from Poland.
Happy Holy (Holiday) Day
Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych
Happy Holy (Holiday) Day at Easter
Because of the egg theme you may also hear
May the eggs be delicious.
After posting the above I received an Easter card from Poland with the following stamp.