Superstitions were attached to the colors and designs on the pysanky, and to the physical pysanka itself.

One old Ukrainian myth centered on the wisdom of giving older people gifts of pysanky with darker colors and/or rich designs, for their life has already been filled. Similarly, it is appropriate to give young people pysanky with white as the color predominant color because their life is still a blank page.

Another Ukrainian superstition insists that girls should never give their boyfriends pysanky that have no design on the top and bottom of the egg; the baldness on either end signifies that the boyfriend will soon lose his hair.

The pysanka held powerful magic.  The shell could be ground up, and added to chicken feed, to insure that the chickens would be good egg layers. Or it could be used to "smoke out" fevers from people or farm animals; a piece of the shell of a blessed egg would be placed on the fire, and the resulting smoke used to fumigate someone ill with fever (ague).  People were treated in the same manner for night-blindness. It was believed that a blessed egg could calm toothache.  Mind you, pysanky were so powerful that a cloth used to wipe a pysanka could also be used to treat skin infections.

The pysanka itself, in the wrong hands, could prove to be quite dangerous. The eggshells of pysanky had to be broken up into the tiniest pieces, so a witch wouldn't be able to use them to collect dew, which could be used to dry up a milking cow. A witch could also use a piece of shell to poke someone with the shell of a pysanka, that person will, and cause them to sicken and waste away.

Disposing of a pysanka was problematic.  It was considered a great sin to trample upon the remains of a pysanka, and it was believed that God would punish those who trample on blessed eggs with diseases. In some places, the shells of pysanky were thrown on the roof verge; in others, they were thrown into a stream of running water, which would carry them to the Rakhmany and let them know that Easter had arrived.

Pysanky had other uses as well. A pysanka that was obtained on Easter after the first "Khrystosuvannya" could be used to turn away the evil eye, put out fires (conflagrations), and make girls more beautiful.  A blessed pysanka could also help reveal demons hiding in your home.

Pysanky, particualrly blessed pysanky, would help the farmer improve his productivity. Pysanky would be placed in the barn to insure the fertility of the livestock, and under the bee hives to help the bees produce honey.  Pysanky were placed in the newly plowed fields to improve the yield of crops, and in the orchard to ensure plenty of fruit.

Note: see also “Talismanic Uses” for more details.

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