Psyanky are traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs made by using a wax batik method. Like many Christian traditions, the egg started out as a pagan symbol. It was a symbol of rebirth and was used during spring festivals to celebrate the rebirth of the land. There are many legends involving the Psyanky. My favorite is that there is a dragon chained to a mountain. If the chains break, the dragon will destroy the earth. The only way to keep the chains from breaking is if enough psyanky are made. That is why it is critical for the tradition to be passed to each generation. Because these eggs had a religious significance, they were banned during the Soviet era. My mother has taught friends that emigrated from the Ukraine how to make these Ukrainian eggs because the tradition had mainly vanished in the Ukraine.
My family makes these eggs every year. My great-grandmother would make a basket of eggs and take them to church to be blessed by the priest. She and my grandmother used a pin imbedded in a pencil eraser to make her designs. My mother and I use a device called a kistka, which has a reservoir to hold the hot wax, which makes it easier to write on the egg. To make the design, you must first draw, using the hot wax, any design you want to be white. Then you dip the egg in the lightest of the colors you will be using, such as yellow. Then you cover any areas you want to remain yellow with the hot wax. Then you dip the egg in the next color. This goes on until you reach the final color, which is usually black. When you are finished, you use heat from a candle or the oven to remove the wax to see your finished design.
Here are some eggs with traditional designs. Each design has a meaning related to fertility, a good harvest, or Christianity.
Here are some of my designs. While some designs are traditional, others are less so.