New Castle News

April 7, 2014

Photo Gallery, Story: Class teaches Polish Easter egg art

Sam Luptak Jr.
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There are many symbols that signify the Easter season. None is more prominent or popular than the Easter egg.

Thousands of years before Christians took over a pagan fertility celebration and renamed it Easter, the egg existed as symbol of spring, rebirth and fertility. Centuries before Jesus was crucified in Rome, many cultures decorated eggs and gave them as gifts to friends and loved ones.

As Christianity replaced pagan beliefs, the egg remained. It came to represent Jesus’ death and resurrection and the new life that comes through him. Decorated eggs still prevail as the ultimate symbol of the Easter season.

On Saturday, the Polish Americans of Lawrence County demonstrated their Polish and Slavic methods of decorating eggs at a class held at the Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church Parish.

According to chairman Gary Fray, this is the fourth year that the group has sponsored the class, which features Pisanki and Skrobanki egg decorating, as well as palm weaving

 “All three are things done in old Slavic tradition.” Fray said.

Pisanki, instructor Lori Jaworski-Connelly explained, “is a wax relief method of decorating eggs. Wherever you put wax on an egg, the color underneath stays after you dye it.”

Skrobanki was taught by Bernadette Przybylski, who said, “Skrobanki are eggs dyed a single color then decorated by scratching a design onto the egg shell with a sharp instrument. The result is a white design on a dark colored background.

“Skrobanki means ‘that which is scratched’ in Polish,” she went on. “But these eggs are used for decoration only. Because of the dyes and finishes the eggs are not edible. But, if cared for these eggs will last many years.”

The third tradition explored was palm weaving. Crafters take the blessed palms for Palm Sunday and weave them into braids, crosses, fish and mats. The weavings are then given as gifts as a gesture of goodwill and blessing. The receiver keeps the gift through the year until Ash Wednesday, when the palms are burnt and the ash is used for the Lenten kickoff.

Dozens of people of various ethnic backgrounds came out for the class. All agreed they enjoyed learning the traditional Polish methods and each was pleased with the finished products he or she had made in the classes

 “These,” one participant said, “will definitely make our Easter celebration brighter and more diverse.”