Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs




ON BIG BLEND RADIO: This podcast was recorded on-site at the 40th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival held in July 2019 in Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in Louisiana. The interview features Nicole Holcombe who explains the art and folk history behind Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs). 


Pysanky is an ancient wax-resistant technique that originated in Eastern Europe. The word “pysanka” is derived from the Ukrainian word “pysaty” meaning “to write.” Using a fresh raw egg, all areas that are to remain white are covered with wax using a funnel-like tool called “kystka.” Traditionally, the egg is dyed in successively darker colors (yellow, orange, red), each time covering what is to remain in that color with wax. Lastly, the egg is put in black dye and every part of the egg not covered with wax will become black. Holding the pysanka next to a flame, the wax is melted and wiped away with a soft cloth, revealing the intricate patterns. At this point, the egg is varnished and can be emptied.

The designs and colors are symbolic of wishes for wealth, health, fertility, long life, happiness and other good wishes for the person destined to receive the egg. Ukrainian legend has it that as long as pysanky are made or given, the world will continue to exist. When the last pysanka is made, the world will end.

For more about pysanky, contact Nicole Holcombe at (318) 443-4148 or

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