Polish Easter Eggs – Pisanki

Eggs are a symbol of spring and rebirth all around the world, and they have also become the most enduring symbol of Easter and the Resurrection. In Poland, Easter egg-making has developed into a true art form and there are as many methods of making them as there are traditions and rituals associated with them. Easter eggs are called pisanki in Polish, which comes from the word pisac, which means to write. Designs are drawn or words are written on a hardboiled egg with a wax stylus, then placed in a dye. When the wax is scraped off, a white pattern is revealed on the colored egg.

Pisanki are usually prepared in Polish homes during Holy Week, especially on Holy Friday. On Holy Saturday, the colored eggs are placed in baskets, along with butter, bread, salt, horseradish, sausage, and ham, and taken to church to be blessed by a priest.

Altough pisanka has come to mean Easter egg in Polish, it represents only one of the methods used to decorate eggs in Poland. Here are some of the most popular types of Easter eggs in Poland:

  • Pisanki – eggs with wax patterns “written” or drawn on them, then dyed

  • Kraszanki – solid-color eggs, dyed with plant materials such as beets, onion skins, and leaves

  • Malowanki – hand-painted eggs

  • Drapanki – solid-color eggs with a design scratched onto the surface

  • Wyklejanki – eggs decorated with colored yarn

  • Nalepianki – eggs decorated with paper cut-outs or straw

Sometimes, hollow eggs are used instead of hardboiled. The eggs can then be displayed all year long, ensuring good health and prosperity. The solid-color eggs were used for consumption; the decorated and hollow eggs would be saved from year to year. Once blessed in church on Holy Saturday, eggs were never thrown out, nor were the eggshells. Instead, they would be buried in the garden or field as crops were sown, bringing good fortune and ensuring a good harvest. The water used in cooking Easter eggs was also saved and used to water fruit trees and to wash beehives. This was believed to result in sweet-tasting fruit and delicious golden honey.

On Easter Sunday, before Swiecone, the traditional Polish Easter Brunch, a blessed Easter egg is shared by the family, as Easter wishes are exchanged. Pets and livestock were given a blessed Easter egg to eat as well.