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Saanich mother and daughter teaching Ukrainian Easter egg art 'pysanky' to inspire hope


Creating Ukrainian Easter eggs, also known as pysanky, is an art form that has been around for centuries.

This year, it means more than ever to both Olga Lang and her daughter, Dawn Lang, who have Ukrainian heritage and live in Saanich.

"There is a lot to be sad about in the world – and especially what’s happening in Ukraine, I feel like it's even more important to celebrate that love," said Dawn on Monday, referring to the joy experienced creating the decorated eggs, the messages they depict, as well as gifting the eggs.

Olga taught Dawn how to create pysanka when she was just five years old. Nearly four decades later, they do it every spring.

Part of its appeal is the meditative state you’re supposed to embrace while decorating the eggs.

"You are encouraged to train yourself to be in a state of grace, to be in a loving gratitude," said Olga from the kitchen of her home, where she was creating various beautiful pysanky.

Olga’s parents emigrated from Ukraine before she was born. The handcrafted art is a tribute to her heritage — a heritage and culture she fears is in jeopardy as bombs and Russian attacks devastate Ukraine.

"If we don’t hold on to our culture, there are evil forces that want to take over and obliterate it," she said.

The mother and daughter are teaching the art of creating pysanka, which involves writing messages with beeswax on eggs, on Saturday, March 25, at Christ Church Cathedral from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

"This is something I’d like to share with all of humanity," said Olga. "I feel it’s a nice thing to do."

As for beginners who might be intimidated by the delicate touch needed to decorate a raw egg — imperfections are embraced.

"It’s easy when you're working with melted beeswax, on a curved surface for things not to go as you expect them to go, and to just accept that and maintain that loving state," said Dawn.

Each intricate egg takes about four hours to create. Every symbol, every line and every colour that you see on a pysanka has meaning.

"We want to make sure that the message that we put on the egg is one of hope of goodwill," said Dawn.

It’s a message they hope to share this weekend with aspiring artists.

The cost of the pysanky workshop is $50, which includes supplies and a $25 tax receipt. Because of the intricacy involved in making the eggs, participants should be 16 years or older.

You can register for the course at Top Stories

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