The Ukrainian settlers who came to Western Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought with them a tradition of hospitality, good, hearty food, and holiday customs that blended Greek Orthodox Catholic Church ritual with folklore. One of the most charming of those customs is the creation of colourful batik eggs. The colours and patterns are added layer by layer using a wax-resist method, resulting in a true work of art.
Historically, people living in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine decorated Easter eggs as a way to ensure the triumph of good over evil in the coming year. According to legend, if too few eggs were decorated, an evil serpent would be released from captivity to wreak havoc on humanity. A sufficient number of eggs would serve as a talisman to keep the monster imprisoned for another year.
On my trip to Saskatchewan, my hosts gave me two batik eggs. Unfortunately they are fragile things and both broke years ago. One had geometric designs of white on a dark blue background, and the other had an intricate design in red, black, yellow and white. Whenever I see Ukrainian eggs now, they bring back memories of my visit and the open hearts of my host family.
What’s your favourite Easter tradition?