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Why are decorated Easter eggs called Pisanki in Poland? Posted by on Apr 13, 2020 in Culture, Holidays

The tradition of decorating eggs was present on the Polish lands throughout the centuries. The oldest decorated eggs discovered so far come from the 10th century. They were unearthed during the archaeological excavations in Ostrówek, near the city of Opole.

The word ‘pisanki’ is commonly used to name all the ‘easter eggs’ in Poland nowadays, but that word was originally used to name only one (the oldest) type of the decorated eggs. It is derived from the verb “pisać” – to write.

The very traditional pisanki are created by drawing on the eggs with the melted wax (natural beeswax is the best for this method) and then dipping them into dyes. This method is generally known as batik (method of dyeing textiles). Drawing tools could be different, like pins, needles, knives, wood etc.

Image by Bernadett Rehor from Pixabay

The process of dyeing has to be organized from the lightest to the darkest colors of the dyes. The wax protects the parts of the eggshells underneath it from being dyed, and when it’s melted the patterns are revealed.

Various regions of Poland had their own styles of decorations, but regardless of the ornaments’ styling, this technique was the most widespread and therefore, over the time, the word “pisanki” became common as a reference to all kinds of the decorated Easter eggs in general.

Some other names used for decorated eggs in Poland:

Kraszanki – word derived from verb ‘krasić’ (to decorate / to dye / to beautify)

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Drapanki – word derived from verb ‘drapać’ (to scratch)

Image by MrGajowy3 from Pixabay

Malowanki – word derived from “malować” (to paint)

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Nalepianki – word derived from verb ‘nalepiać’ (to stick on / to glue on)

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Oklejanki – word derived from verb ‘oklejać‘ (to cover or overlay sth / to tape over or around sth)

Image by MirellaST from Pixabay


Which ones are your favorite? These pictures are only examples, there are just so many beautiful Easter eggs decoration techniques in Poland!

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.

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