Tuesday, April 8, 2014

of ham and colored eggs

There is a verb 'pisat' (to write), this applied to an egg is 'pisanka' [pisanki (plural)]. Amongst the Slavonic peoples and neighbouring nations of Orthodox, and Catholic neighbours this has been a folkloric art for centuries. Molten wax designs are drawn on eggs, which are then dipped in dyes. Some are scratched with styluses. Some are collected in museums. Fabergé made million dollar jeweled eggs for the last Romanov czar.

One color eggs are dipped into dyes. Now we have food coloring from the store, but natural dyes can be gathered from the garden,or icebox. Boiled onion peels will give a red brown.

Many years ago, i had an history professor, who held his upper division courses at his home. He was a Lutheran Swede from Iowa. It was near Easter, and he brought out his table top Easter tree, these small bare branches held eggs. We were in our twenties, and he brought out eggs and markers, and everyone drew an egg. He saved the best ones from years past. The best one, a Chinese girl had made; it was of two panda bears eating bamboo, if i remember rightly, under a willow tree.

These folk sacramentals do not end with the incredible egg. Amongst these people, Easter baskets are blessed on the day before Easter. "Święconka" is the Polish word (that has been generalised for this in America), and there is formalised prayer, sometimes. Some people compete, not many: baskets shaped as poultry and fowl with fancy linen and lace. Some are big baskets, with food for the whole family, others are minimalised (why bother, a bonzai basket).

And butcher shops are involved. Particular sausages, hams, and butter shaped as lambs are made. Some foods are those that were denied in Lent: bread with eggs in the dough, or Easter eggs surrounded in braided bread; meats, cheeses, and so on; as with the Passover Seder, there is the bitter horseradish (sometimes a jar, sometimes a large root); if children are involved, chocolate eggs, and marshmallow "peeps". Now, in French (and German, and others) the drawings of Little Red Riding Hood's basket, there is a bottle (or two) of wine that are not seen in the US; but this sort of 'prohibition' never came to eastern Europe.

Some of these traditions have entered into parishes that are outside these nationalities. Such practices are often welcomed into other parishes. God save Christians from non-festive clerics.

Ukrainian Archives, Cleveland

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