Evolution of the symbols of the Ukrainian easter eggs Cover Image

Еволюція символіки Української писанки
Evolution of the symbols of the Ukrainian easter eggs

Author(s): Alla Hotsalhuk
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, Customs / Folklore, Semiology, Sociology of Culture
Published by: Національна академія керівних кадрів культури і мистецтв
Keywords: Culture; Easter egg; symbolism; pagan symbol; symbol of the Christian; Easter; ritual;

Summary/Abstract: The article reveals the sacred symbolism of the Easter eggs as ritual attribute, its evolution from the paganism to the Christianity and the modern civilization. The «Dyeing» Easter egg was a symbol of the Easter – a pagan symbol of the generation of the life, reinterpreted by the Christianity as the symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and regeneration of the man in the Hereafter. Gradually, lost its religious and magical motivation, the Easter egg today acquired a purely aesthetic value. On its origin has the Easter egg is the painted or ornamented egg and is obliged to the old traditional rites and celebrations devoted to the arrival of the spring and awakening of the nature. The painting of the Easter chicken or wooden egg in the c different types of the ornament – geometric, plant and animal – is characteristic for the traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs’ painting. And each color of this painting has its own magic and symbolic content. Painted egg symbolizes the source of life, a new birth. The custom to paint eggs there since pre-Christian times, but now it is most common in the western regions of Ukraine. The Easter eggs have long been used as the ritual attributes as the egg was seen as a symbol of the vitality of the embryo of the universe. The Easter egg belongs to the ancient cult relics, the attributes of the solar cult, revealing homage to ritual symbolism beliefs in celebrating of the Spring Festival, the Sun, Earth, Water of those days. The Easter eggs are used in the tribal life of the ancient people, it is evidenced by archaeological finds, the excavation of the ancient tombs. The bird is the messenger of the spring, sun, the waiting of joy. Therefore, the bird’s egg was considered an amulet, which attracted good, light forces, and rejected evil, dark. The ancient Ukrainians believe that the Easter egg have the magical power. The old people have always considered the Easter egg as the sacred, special thing. Due to the fact that the Easter egg as one of the main objects of еру religious ritual acts in the Ukraine enjoyed the honor since the ancient times, it preserved its sacred framing in the diversity of the forms and symbolic compositions to the date. The ceremonial meaning of its original frames with the ancient symbols gives the Easter egg the great cultural and historical significance. Up to the XXIth century the Ukrainians sincerely believe in the magical power of the Easter egg, which represents the accumulation of the good and wealth as in the spiritual and material sense. However, the phenomenon of the Easter egg, especially the aspect of the transformation of its ritual importance in the historical context, remains for today very little studied, although there are many scientific works from the last century on this subject. The various sources indicate that the popular Easter eggs painting is practiced in the Ukraine for centuries. The XIXth century is marked by different art options of the decorating of the eggs in the Ukraine. The collections of these ancient and valuable achievements are still kept in the museums of the Ukraine and other countries of the world. Meanwhile, a sacred custom to painting the eggs is known to many peoples of the world out of deep-old; it embodies the idea of the unshakeable unity of the heaven and earth areas and vitality strength of the people. Archaeological excavations found the burials of the thousands years ago with the colored and painted clay eggs. Later the eggs of the storks was used for painting. This Easter egg became a talisman, because stork was considered a holy bird and the talisman of the happiness in the house. The great importance was attached to the symbolism of the coloring of the Easter eggs. At first the Easter eggs were painted with the blood or red paint which symbolized the joy of the life and love. Yellow paint has long symbolized the moon and stars, or the bountiful harvest in the land. Green means the spring and resurgent nature, the rich diversity of the plant and animal worlds. The combinations of the black and white is a symbol of the honoring of the spirits of the dead, and thanks for the kind of protection of the clan from the malicious intent. At the Easter for a sign the wishes of the happiness not everyone equally was gifted with the Easter eggs. The children and young people received the Easter eggs bright colors, which were supposed to symbolize the life, the older people – the Easter eggs with dark or black color. The black colored Easter eggs were worn on the graves of the deceased relatives. An interesting common custom among women of the twentieth century was the donation of two Easter eggs tied in a embroidered handkerchief, her boyfriend. If he kissed her, then it can expect the proposal to the wedding, and if only a thank – on the "wedding" is nothing to hope for. The evolution of the culture gradually robs the symbols of the Easter eggs the magical character and gives an exceptionally aesthetic value.