The Easter Egg Tree

Assembled by Sean Neligan

Historical / Cultural Significance

The celebration of Easter occurs each year, usually between March 22 and April 25. This celebration has its earliest roots thousands of years ago when our ancestors believed that a goddess was responsible for the return of spring each year. To make sure that the spring goddess returned, people held festivals in her honor. Today, Easter is the name of a religious festival which signifies the rebirth of Christ.

For as long as there has been Easter, there has also been Easter eggs. The egg is seen as a symbol of new life. For thousands of years, it has been the custom to give eggs as gifts at spring festivals. A question often asked by children is, "Why does a bunny bring Easter eggs and not a chicken?" There seems to be two explanations. First, the goddess, Eastre's, favourite animal was a hare; hence it was believed that a hare delivered her eggs. A second explanation is based upon a legend about a woman who dyed eggs for her children at Easter. She hid them in a nest and when the children found the nest, a big rabbit hopped away. They thought the rabbit brought the eggs, and the story spread.

Easter is a major celebration in the Ukraine. Part of this celebration involves the decoration of eggs. Eggs decorated with plain colors or simple designs are called krasanki. Pysanki are extraordinary, distinctive eggs which may take 6-8 hours to decorate. An old Ukraninan custom involved single women dropping their pysanki into a stream in hopes that the eggs would be retreived by a suitor, for the girls had inscribed their names on the eggs.

The Easter Egg Tree is a custom that has come to us from several European coutries, particularly Germany and the Ukraine: "The Easter egg tree had become a fairly recent tradition in America because of the widespread popularity of Katherine Milhous's children's book, "The Egg Tree." This custom of decorating evergreens or leafless trees with colored eggs had its origin in the years following the Civil War. The older practice of suspending eggs in their natural colors on bushed and small trees outdoors was a custom of earlier date."

Principles and Elements of Design

Form, line, shape, and color are evident.

Technique/Methodology:

Please refer to Ukrainian art forms also. Blow out and decorate eggs (or decorate styrophoam eggs). Look for a fallen tree branch. Strip off any dead leaves. Fill a large containor with sand and pebbles big enough to support your branch. Stand branch up in containor. To decorate the tree, tie short threads or string around the middle of a toothpick. Push the toothpick through the larger hole in one of your eggs. Hole the loose end of your thread or string and give a gentle pull. The toothpick should remain inside the egg, which will dangle from the thread or string. Finally, tie the decorated eggs to the branch.

For more ideas on Pysanki you can link to...

Psanky

Psanky

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