easter: 3 posts

Easter Eggs Colored With Onion Skins

I see the Easter color palette as yellow, violet, green, and sienna. Yellow is from the saffron tinted paska, a vanilla scented brioche we traditionally make for Easter Sunday. Violet is from the candied flowers we use to decorate it. Green is from the dill and cucumber salad that must accompany the roast pork. Sienna, on the other hand, is from the color of Easter eggs. It’s a rich hue, between the reds of Sienna frescoes and the brown of sandalwood. This color is completely natural and making it is very easy. All you need is a few handfuls of onion skins.

My grandmother starts collecting onion skins a few months before Easter, but she colors dozens of eggs. Most of us need no more than a few onions, although the more skins you have, the darker the color will be. It also follows that the darker the onion skins, the more intense the shade of sienna.

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Postcard from Ukraine : Pysanky

Khristos Voskres! Христос воскрес! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Happy Easter to all who celebrated over the weekend.

This year was the first time that I tried my hand at making pysanky, decorated eggs that are an essential element of the Ukrainian holiday. This tradition is much older than Christianity, attested by the fact that painted eggs are part of the Persian vernal equinox celebration, Nowrouz. Pysanky is one of the most distinctive Ukrainian arts, and every region has its own design and technique. The motifs can be religious–angels, Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus, a cross, or more commonly, flowers, leaves, birds nesting in tree branches and geometrical motifs. The design is first made with beeswax and then the egg is colored.
pysankycherry blossoms 2016-1

As you can see, I first colored my egg yellow and then added more wax on the parts I wished to remain yellow. After this was done, I colored the egg red.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Easter and Violets

“Victoria puts bread to sleep on pillows!” said a college classmate after visiting me during my Easter preparations. You see, in order for paska, the Ukrainian brioche-like bread made for the holiday, to retain its lacy, lighter-than-air texture and not collapse under its own weight, it has to cool down on something soft. So my paska had its own pillow, and once a year it was brought out to serve as a ceremonial cushion. All of this might strike others as quaint, but Easter is the most beloved holiday in my family, and everyone takes preparations seriously.

easter

This year we follow the familiar pattern, but it’s an even more special holiday because I’m spending it with my family in Ukraine. I’ve already stuffed myself with matzoh balls at my cousin’s Pesach table in Kyiv, and now I’m anticipating an Easter feast with my grandmother. This morning we already boiled the onion peels to create a natural maroon-red dye for eggs. The fresh cheese has been drained and whipped with almonds for an Easter cheesecake.  Our home is once again filled with the wine-like aroma of rising dough, vanilla sugar, rum soaked raisins, and violets.

I wish everyone Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and a wonderful spring. May it usher in more joy, love and happiness.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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