Pysanky Eggs Showcase Easter Spirit, Ukrainian Heritage

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These aren't typical your Easter eggs.

"Pysanky comes from the word which means, in English, to write," said Ukrainian egg decorator Betty Sprynczynatyk.

Using a stylus filled with hot bees wax and dipping it into dye, Betty Sprynczynatyk creates intricate designs, an art she learned from her sister, Debbie Gross.

"We use a colored one because it's easier to see on the egg than clear wax," Betty said.

"My mom wanted one of her daughters to learn how to decorate eggs because she hadn't learned to pass it on to us," Debbie said.

And they've been decorating for 40 years.

"I can't believe it's been that many years," Betty said. "I just enjoy doing it. It's relaxing to me."

She starts by drawing a design in wax, then dunking the eggs into various dyes that will reveal colors once the wax is removed.

The eggs are then sealed with a varnish, and drained.

"We pump air into the egg and the egg comes out of the hole," Debbie said.

Every color and design is deeply rooted in symbolism, and the Christian faith.

"I like to work on eggs with deer and wheat and crosses, but the deer and wheat symbolize North Dakota," Betty said. "So I like symbolizing ND on the egg."

Each egg takes Betty about three hours to complete.

"When I see the finished product, I'm so happy with it and I'm ready to go make another one," Betty said.

According to Ukrainian legend, as long as Pysanky are being made, evil is kept out of the world, meaning each egg Betty and Debbie create brings a little bit of peace and goodness.

Betty and Debbie have eggs on display and for sale at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute in Dickinson.

For more information, you can visit the Institute's website at