Last Updated on April 20, 2022 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
The Significance of the 2022 Pysanka Ukrainian Easter Egg Silver Coin
Spring is considered a season of renewal in many cultures. Many countries observe the tradition of colouring or dyeing Easter eggs. In Ukraine, the tradition is to create intricate designs using a technique called pysanky. The finished eggs are called pysanka, and it is traditional to give them as gifts to loved ones at Easter to express hope for the future. Since 2015, the pysanka coin released annually by the Royal Canadian Mint has become an equally beloved tradition displaying a different design every year. This year’s vibrant design takes on even greater significance.
A Blending of Traditions and Cultures
Eggs symbolize new life. Thus, for Christians, they became associated with Easter, which is the festival celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, a cornerstone of the Christian faith.
However, the Ukrainian tradition of decorating eggs using pysanky appears to predate the spread of Christianity. Decorated ceramic eggs found by archeologists suggest that the tradition dates back to prehistoric times. Pysanky is reputed in traditional folklore to scare off bad spirits and prevent evil from taking over the world.
Ukrainians first immigrated to Canada in the 19th century to escape from oppression and overcrowding. Today, Canada has the third-largest world population of Ukrainians. There are over a million Ukrainian Canadians living in Canada, and they make up nearly 4% of the total population. They have contributed significantly to Canadian culture, and Canadian coins shaped like pysanka eggs are just a small way of celebrating their contributions.
An Ancient Technique
The terms “pysanka” and “pysanky” come from a Ukrainian root word meaning “to write.” The process begins by taking a raw egg and drawing an intricate design on it using a pencil, which may be where the term comes from. Small holes are drilled in the top and bottom of the egg to hollow it out. The artist then uses a tool called a kistka to apply wax to certain parts of the eggshell following the pattern drawn on in pencil. The egg is then dipped in dye. Any bare shell exposed to the dye will change colour, while any area covered by the wax is protected. The process involves dipping the egg in several different colours of dye, with more wax added every time to produce the desired design. When the egg is dry, it is heated with a candle to cause the wax to melt off, and the entire pattern is revealed.
A Significant Design
The colours and patterns used for a pysanka have symbolic meanings. This is true of the design of the pysanka coin from the Royal Canadian Mint. Here are some of the colours used and their meanings:
- Yellow: Light and youth
- Red: Happiness and passion
- Blue: The sky; also health
The black on the coin represents eternity, as well as the time just before the dawn that is the darkest. White symbolizes purity and also new birth. The use of four colours on a pysanka conveys a blessing for prosperity.
The pattern on the coin was designed by Dave Wasylyshen, a Ukrainian Canadian artist. The intricate design includes several motifs with symbolic meaning. In the two outer bands, there are water-like waves that represent wealth and saw-like patterns that represent the rays of the sun, as well as loyalty. In the two main bands, there are triangles with a pattern like a sieve that represents the division between good and evil. Small triangles represent family, while large triangles and diamond shapes represent wisdom and knowledge. Beauty, good fortune, life, and love are represented by the rose motifs and starburst shapes.
A Noble Gesture by the Royal Canadian Mint
Ornate pysanka Canadian coins make a beautiful and thoughtful gift for a friend or family member. By purchasing a pysanka egg coin in 2022, you are also helping people struggling in the midst of a crisis. The RCM is donating net proceeds from the sale of the 2022 coin to the Canadian Red Cross to provide humanitarian relief in Ukraine.