CARNEGIE (KDKA) — Saint Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie is celebrating its 110th Easter.
The season of rebirth is marked by tradition that goes back centuries: colorful eggs, known as “Pysanky.” Artist Michael Kapeluck masters an artistry passed down by his immigrant grandparents.
“Every Ukrainian kid at least makes one egg in their lifetime,” he says. “So they all get to learn how to do it.”
Kapeluck says wax is applied to sections of eggshell, and then, “you just put the egg into the candle and the heat melts the wax, and it’s just as simple as that.”
Melting wax reveals the color underneath the outer layer of dye. Kapeluck’s ancestors would decorate eggs to signal the rebirth of spring. The custom dates back to pagan times.
“So when Christianity came to Ukraine,” he says, “kind of that transition from welcoming the sun god back from the dead going to welcoming the son of God back from the dead was an easy transition.”
The collapse of the Soviet Union, some 20 years past, brought independence to Ukraine – and with it, independent artists who decided to come up with some new traditions.
Kapeluck lifts an egg from a basket.
“This is actually a brown egg that was etched, instead of using dye and wax,” he says.
Ukrainian eggs have a kinship with the disappearing snowflakes of spring.
As the artist puts it: “Even if you try and make the same egg over, in some way something happens that’s going to make it just a little bit different.”
“Pysanky” is an artistry that is one of a kind.