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Polish Easter Egg traditions

The Polish American Community was treated to a lesson in old-world Polish Easter traditions at the Polish American Cultural Center in March. Instructor Ray Vargas, who is also Director of the Syrena Polish Folk Ensemble, showed that his skills went beyond Polish music and dance.

Ray Vargas teaching how to make authentic Polish Easter Eggs

He taught the students the Polish art of palm weaving as well as dying Easter Eggs. He also brought in a number of items from his own collection. A tiny painted quail egg that had been turned into a necklace was a gift from his mother.

Polish Quail Egg necklace

The beautifully embroidered cloths used to cover food when it is brought to the church for blessing were also designed and made by Ray. All of the eggs he brought as examples were from his collection, many from his own hand.

Ray Vargas and emroidered cloth for Polsih Easter

He also brought an example of brightly colored wheat painted and twisted to be used in the ceremonial march into the church on Palm Sunday - the beginning of Holy Week. "Poland is not a tropical country and therefore does not have palms."

Palms used for Polish Easter

Hopefully the pictures and videos below will remind us all that the beautiful Polish Easter traditions should be preserved for future generations.

The goal of the class was to create beautiful Easter eggs such as these.

Polish Easter Eggs

Ray Vargas showed how the process begins with a plan and a design. Here are some of the possible designs from different regions of Poland.

Polish Easter Egg designs from different regions of Poland

The style of design is broken down further as seen in this example.

Polish Easter Egg design - embroidery design

In this first of 3 videos (below), Ray Vargas discusses the design options for Polish Easter Eggs.

Ann Greczank studies some of the egg designs

Ann Greczank studies some of the egg designs

Ken Waters with blank egg canvases

Ken Waters with blank 'canvases' to work on

There are many different styles of egg such as the Malowanki which comes from the word Malowac meaning To Paint. Malowanki are hollow eggs onto which have been painted multi-colored patterns.

Malowanki Polish Easter Eggs

Malowanki Polish Easter Eggs

Skrobanki are made by scratching the surface with a sharp tool to reveal the white of the egg shell.

Skrobanki Easter Eggs

Wyklejanki comes from the word Klej which mean to glue on. These hollow eggs have bulrush pith or yarn glued to them. They are common in the Podlasie region of Poland.

Wyklejanki Easter Eggs

Pisanki comes from the word Pisanie (to draw) or Pisac (to write). Pisanki are created by drawing designs with wax on a bare egg. The egg is then submerged into a dye.

Pisanki Polish Easter Eggs

Pisanki Polish Easter Eggs

In this second (below) of three videos, Ray Vargas teaches about the colored dyes used to make the eggs.

Ann Greczank and Cindy Plizga  prparing to apply melted beeswax

Ann Greczank and Cindy Plizga
preparing to apply melted beeswax to the eggs

In the final video (below), Ray Vargas demonstrates how to apply the beeswax to the eggs with a pisac, a funnel writing tool.

There are other traditional Polish Easter crafts such as the Nalepianki in which multiple layers of paper are glued together.

Nalepianki Polish Easter

Folding palms left over from Palm Sunday is another art form. Barb Saraney showed the group how to create beautiful designs from palms.

Barb Saraney creating palm art

Barb Saraney creating palm art

In the video below, Barb Saraney explains the traditional palm art.

Ray Vargas also demonstrated some other traditions such as the beautiful wood shaving ribbons (yes, that is wood!) below.

Polish wood shaving ribbons

Though your Easter basket will probably not contain eggs as beautiful as these

Polish Easter Eggs

We join with Ray Vargas in saying Wesolego Alleluia (Have a Happy Easter celebration)

Wesolego Alleluia

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