Living as an expat in a new country opens your eyes to new traditions and experiences.
Last year, we were greeted with Easter Snow Bunnies near our hotel on our first night in Poland. We didn’t know about this tradition! Luckily, this year, Easter falls later in April (Sunday, April 20th) and our weather is warm and spring-like.
|An Easter Snow Bunny on April 1, 2013, in Warsaw.|
This past week, I just learned about the colorful tradition of Polish pisanki, which are real eggs usually decorated with melted beeswax and then dyed for Easter. The pisanki I’ve seen so far here in Warsaw are exceptionally beautiful! Take a look:
Polish pisanki are named after the verb verb 'pisać' which in contemporary Polish means 'to write' yet in old Polish also meant 'to paint.' Yesterday, I watched a woman demonstrate how to make Polish pisanki as part of my expat group called International Women’s Group of Warsaw. She heated the beeswax over a candle, dipped the stylus tool into the wax and “wrote” on the egg making various designs. Later, she dyed the egg, then removed the wax by heating it over the candle and rubbing off the wax with a towel. Thus, revealing the intricate design and pattern on the egg.
There are even various types of Polish pisanki, based on the technique and preparation used. For example, at my favorite farmer’s market, Hala Mirowska, I bought a basketful of malowanki – hand-painted Easter eggs. Luckily, these are wooden and not fragile real ones!
Another variety is called drapanki – solid-color eggs with a design scratched onto the surface after they are dyed. I only bought one of these because drapanki cost 20-30 pln ($6-10) each instead of the 7 pln ($2.50) I paid for the handmade pisanki made with beeswax and dye. (Meanwhile on Etsy, you’ll pay upwards of 70 pln (about $23) PER egg if you want to buy outside of Poland!)
Lastly, another variety you’ll find is nalepianki – eggs decorated with paper cut-outs or straw. The Polish rooster seems to be a popular motif for these Easter eggs.
Did you know that Polish pisanki are usually made to be given to your family and close friends as a symbolic wish for the gift of life? The eggs can be saved from year to year and sometimes are even blessed at church during the Easter celebrations. I won’t be visiting my family until Christmas, so these pisanki are all mine.
Did you also know there’s even a Muzeum Pisanki in Poland? This small museum in the town of Ciechanowiec, 140 km northeast of Warsaw, is dedicated to the history of Polish Easter eggs and more from Eastern Europe. Hopefully, I can drag hubby here one of these days.
|More Polish pisanki for sale at an ornament store on Emilii Plater in Warsaw.|
Meanwhile at home, we simply dyed Easter eggs with some of our colleagues’ children the old-fashioned way – store-bought dye kits! Last weekend, the kids had fun getting their hands messy with dye and putting stickers on the Easter eggs. I’ve been eating a lot of egg salad this week!
Maybe next year, I’ll get a bit more crafty and attempt to make my own Polish pisanki!
To those of you who will celebrate Easter this weekend, Happy Easter!
***Please check out what some of my fellow bloggers have to say about celebrating Easter abroad and at home: