A participant draws a design in pencil on an egg during a class on traditional Ukrainian Easter egg making at a shelter for people displaced by the war, in Lviv, Ukraine, April 21, 2022. CNS photo/Voznyak Production
A participant draws a design in pencil on an egg during a class on traditional Ukrainian Easter egg making at a shelter for people displaced by the war, in Lviv, Ukraine, April 21, 2022. CNS photo/Voznyak Production

LVIV, Ukraine CNS – In a bright and sunny shelter for people displaced by the war, Anna Bilous did her part to preserve Ukrainian culture by teaching residents the art of "pysanky," literally "writing" Easter eggs.

"The strength of our Ukrainian people is the preservation of our culture," said Bilous, a master egg painter.

Despite the war and the curfew in Lviv, she said, she still decided to offer her annual class in egg decorating to children and adults. The class April 21 was held in a shelter set up by employees of a local bank.

With "people coming to us from all over Ukraine," she said, she wanted "to tell them about the symbol of Ukraine and the symbol of Easter – the Easter egg."

Danilo, a boy displaced from the mostly razed city of Mariupol, was among Bilous' students. He used his new knowledge of drawing on an egg with a pencil, then going over part of the design with hot wax before coloring it to depict "peace in Mariupol."

Yaryna, a girl from Lviv, also joined in. She explained to reporters that the designs on the eggs "have different symbols, such as healing, symbols of love, and others. I have drawn a symbol that heals – a sunflower."

An Easter egg, she explained, is drawn as a gift for someone and not as something to keep for oneself.

Hrystyna Greschuk, a volunteer at the shelter and an employee of the bank that set it up, said that for one resident at the shelter, the egg-making class was a dream come true.

The woman, from eastern Ukraine, told the volunteers she had a collection of images of pysanky from Facebook and "I've always wanted to try it, and I always looked for someone to show me, but we don't have that in the east."

"And today she painted her first Easter egg," Greschuk said.

Bilous said she is not surprised that some people from the eastern part of the country have never made a traditional Easter egg, but it is part of the nation's culture and is especially preserved in Lviv and other areas of the west.

"For us, Ukraine means tradition, and the Ukrainian tradition of the Easter egg is something we have to protect, to pass down from generation to generation," she said. "And this is important because the strength of our Ukrainian people is the preservation of our culture. In fact, it's the essence of our mission."

Reporting by Voznyak Production in Lviv for Catholic News Service.