This story was shared with us by Donette Reis, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Frankfurt, Germany. Donette wrote the article about the class she gave at Trinity on how to make traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs.
How international can you get? Two weeks before Easter a group of ladies from three different nations who attend Trinity Lutheran Church in Frankfurt, Germany met to decorate Easter eggs using a traditional Ukrainian method under the instruction of an American, who learned the technique while living in Germany.
The workshop was an encore of the well-received 2013 debut workshop. Several women came back a second time to improve their skills in the art under the direction of Trinity member Donette Reis. The idea stemmed from Donette’s participation in the congregation’s “Pay it Forward” project two years ago. She and her daughter Lydia decorated and sold the eggs to help raise money for two mission projects. As a response to the popularity of the eggs and the frequently posed question, “How did you do that?” the class was organized for the following Lenten season.
The art of decorating pysanky, as these eggs are called in Ukraine, goes back to pre-Christian times. When Christianity came to Ukraine, the symbolism on the eggs also reflected the Christian beliefs and the art became firmly anchored as an Easter tradition. The art made its way to the United States with immigrants and has become popular there as well, and that not only among families with Ukrainian heritage. It was back in Europe, at a class held on an American base in Hanau, Germany twenty years ago that Donette was introduced to the art of making pysanky.
A funnel-like tool called a kistka is used to apply molten wax to the eggs in between each dip into various colored dyes, thus sealing in the color. The eggs, usually covered with symmetrical designs which are full of symbolism, are traditionally decorated during Lent and given to friends and family as gifts on Easter. At Trinity it was not only the resulting beautiful eggs, but even more importantly, the opportunity to gather for Christian fellowship that drew the participants.
Celestine Makobe, a relatively new member of Trinity, explained her motivation for attending the workshop: “This was a new experience for me as I come from Kenya and usually we don’t have Easter egg decorating events. I found it very exciting and fun decorating normal eggs into beautiful art. I never knew how much fun one could have with such basic stuff like eggs and a little dye. I truly loved hearing the different stories from people and laughing; this cheers me up and I feel at home while away from my family.”
All of the workshop participants enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the Ukrainian culture’s Easter traditions in a very hands-on way. As Marla Steenbock, one of the returning artists, put it, “We are an international congregation and it is important to learn as much as we can about the celebrations of other countries.”
- Pray for the members of Trinity, who come from all over the world, that they would continue to be strengthened in their faith and encouraged in the their Life Together.
- Learn more about Trinity by reading Rev. Robert Flohrs’ Missionary Profile.