Painting an Easter egg is a widely recognized tradition, yet its roots come from centuries old Pegan rituals in Ukraine. There, the decorated egg is called a “pysanka” which means “to inscribe.” The decorated eggs were a part of Spring rituals and each symbol and color had a meaning. Trees represent growth, lines encircling the egg represent immorality, and yellow symbolizes the harvest, for example. With the advent of Christianity, the meaning of the Pysanka evolved to represent the rebirth or Christ rather than the rebirth of the Earth.
When Ukrainians migrated to the United States they brought the tradition with them. Today, there are over 26,000 people of Ukrainian ancestry living in Los Angeles.
One particular organization seeks to keep Ukrainian arts like the pysanka alive. The Ukrainian Arts Center was founded in 1986 with a mission to preserve and share Ukrainian traditional arts with the community at large. That same year they held the Pysanka Festival to celebrate the ancient art.
The festival is now held at the Ukrainian Culture Center in East Hollywood and it attracts nearly 1,000 people every year. Artists are invited to showcase their pysankas and teach the general public how to make their own. There are also Ukrainian crafts for sale, traditional foods, and folk dance and singing performances.
The organization hopes to one day open a permanent museum where they can preserve and share Ukrainian film, art, music, and folk traditions with the West Coast.
“It is important to preserve the heritage of Ukrainian arts, but also to introduce the arts to the diverse cultures of Los Angeles and the West Coast,” explains Daria Tchaikovsky, the President of the Ukrainian Arts Center.
Our longterm goal is to establish a Ukrainian Museum in the West Coast.