In case you didn’t know, Russia’s Easter celebrations are currently underway, holding more significance than Christmas due to the prevalence of Russian Orthodoxy. They are several gear-shifts upwards from our brief deviation into mini-holidays, chocolate eggs and an extra church service. Compare the above with Nadia Linn’s version on Visit Russia:-
“Easter cleanses our souls and thoughts, bringing peace, joy and hope. And it’s a time when Russians look forward to a happy family feast with lots of special Easter food like Easter bread, traditional cheesecake, Easter eggs and other tasty treats.” How’s the soul-cleansing going, here in the UK?
The Easter ensemble is still as schizophrenic in its makeup though, with Jesus, the Easter Bunny and those eggs again, all in the same package. Such unlikely bedfellows are testament to what occurs when Christianity collides with Paganism, and officially wins, -although with a few concessions to the older, warmly-held beliefs of tradition.
Those Pagans again
Pagan celebrations seem hard to give up; perhaps because they are so much fun, aside from the occasional blood-sacrifice of course. Who would forsake a festival that united entire communities in revelry and provided escape from the drudgery and hardships of mundane existence? So, we’ll take the food, the fun and the games, and add eternal salvation too. What could be better?
There’s a certain bond between Russian culture and the egg, just ask Mr Fabergé. Whereas the esteemed jeweler’s work was the gift of Kings, the not so rich would (and still do) decorate ‘regular’ eggs, beautifully, around Easter time; play games with them and even sell wooden versions painted/printed with icons, to tourists and collectors alike. Whilst there are variations to cater for all pockets; it doesn’t take long to find professional examples costing several 100 GBP. Antique, versions quickly venture into the 1000 GBP+ bracket and head skywards. Add “imperial” to the description and suddenly, effortlessly, the price tag touches several 1000 GBP and more, for lacquered, papier maché originals.
In spite of such ostentation, some of the most affordable (4 of the hand-painted wooden variety for 12GBP!) have a definite charm of their own. It’s their approachable, rustic nature and bright colours that clinch the deal. These are Pisanki eggs, used for Easter decor, but also as touching gifts to symbolise ‘life’, anytime. Looking in detail at their florid lines, it quickly becomes clear that the artists have applied rapid flowing brush strokes in simple repeating patterns and motifs, combined to create overall complexity against a solid-colour background.
That’s taking nothing away from their creation of course,similarly viewing the workings of a clock only adds to its appeal, surely? Counterparts to the Pisanki are the Krashenki eggs; of similar purpose but resplendent with one, bold colour. Do all Pisanki’s start out as Krasheki’s, technically speaking? I’ll venture, yes. It’s fair and correct to point out that that such items are as much a traditional Ukraine, Eastern European countries and the Baltic States also.
The ‘cheat’ versions lose much of their essential appeal by the short-cut involved in their ‘process’, namely the application of stickers, or heat-shrink, patterned sleeving. Yes it’s the difference between a real tattoo and a transfer, but hey, if you have only a few rubles to spare and the young ones need some insta-fun, then fair enough.
Just a few more eggs, some symbolism, and some DIY next time.
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