Skip to content

Coast Pysanky practitioners prep for Orthodox Easter this weekend

Fundraising concert for Ukraine coming up April 23
A. Art Beat_eggs
Janet Ritchey fashions traditional pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter eggs, using dye and candle wax.

Members of the Sunshine Coast’s Ukrainian community are readying pysanky, or traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs, in a centuries-old custom that coincides with the observance of Orthodox Easter on April 24. 

Janet Ritchey, of Gibsons, spent the first 13 years of her life unaware that she possessed Ukrainian heritage. Her grandmother was born in Saskatchewan, the daughter of immigrants from Ukraine. 

“There was a lot of discrimination,” Ritchey said. “So my grandmother married a fellow whose heritage was English and they just assimilated. [Ukrainian culture] wasn’t part of my upbringing at all.” 

She enrolled in adult night school courses to learn the art of pysanky, which involves successive stages of dyeing and waxing eggshells to create intricate designs. 

“Traditionally the colours and the symbols are very meaningful,” Ritchey said. “It’s like a prayer. You’re infusing prayers into the egg as you work on them. And so the people who are doing the eggs now, their prayers are—of course—for Ukraine.” 

In 1980, while living in Vegreville, Alberta, Ritchey’s grandmother came to visit. With Ritchey’s help, and in spite of symptoms from Parkinson’s disease, she fashioned a pysanky. “To me it was wonderful that she remembered the design that she did as a child,” said Ritchey. 

A fundraising concert and auction for Ukraine will be held on Saturday, April 23 at High Beam Dreams in Gibsons.  

The evening will feature live music by a Ukrainian vocal trio and Luci Herder. More information about the “Sunshine Coast Stands With Ukraine’’ event is available by visiting