Paulett Simunich learned to decorate chicken and goose eggs in the traditional Carpathian Rusyn style from her grandmother who immigrated to the United States in 1910 from the Carpathian Mountains. She continues to pass on the tradition by teaching the symbolism, techniques, and history of pysanky to people in her Johnstown, Pennsylvania community.
“At age eight, I remember my Baba and my Mom by the coal stove, concentrating on their eggs; working from a simple handmade tool and melted beeswax in a small metal can. I was mesmerized by their quick rhythmic strokes. I watched and listened to my Baba’s words, spoken in her native Carpathian Rusyn language. My turn arrived the following year when I was finally tall enough to stand by the stove and dip into the wax safely. Little did I know 50 years from the first time I grasped a kitska, the little girl inside me would still be showing and teaching this folk art so dear to my heart.”
Paulett Simunich’s eggs are in demand in her community today as a thriving part of the Easter tradition, when baskets filled with the eggs and other traditional items are blessed by the Priest. Her eggs are also given as precious gifts for Baptisms, Christmas, weddings, and “just because you are you” occasions. Each color and each part of the design conveys a specific meaning.