In cooperation with Estonia, Ukraine submitted its traditional decorated Easter eggs for inclusion on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage


The Ministers of Culture of Estonia and Ukraine signed a joint request to have pysanky, the traditional Ukrainian-style decorated Easter eggs, included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A decision is expected to be made by UNESCO by the end of 2024.

Pysanka are Ukrainian Easter eggs decorated using the batik method. The decorations on the eggs, known as pysanka, are not painted, but written with wax. Ornamentation and traditional national patterns are used, all of which have unique meanings. 

According to Minister of Culture Piret Hartman, spiritual cultural heritage plays an important role in uniting people. “The practices that are passed down from generation to generation and are still alive create strong communities. The tradition of pysanka Easter eggs unites Ukrainians all over the world and also plays an important role in the Estonian-Ukrainian community. Common customs are also important for the refugees who found a temporary home in Estonia due to the Russian war, and who, in addition to getting to learning about Estonian culture, can keep in touch with their homeland and their own culture,” the minister said. 

“The pysanka tradition lives on, even now during the war, uniting Ukrainians around the world. Among other things, women draw symbols of protection, such as infinity and the tree of life, on the pysanka for their husbands and sons who are at war. We are grateful that, in addition to its multifaceted assistance, the Estonian state was able to help Ukraine in the field of culture right now by submitting a joint application to the UNESCO Representative List,” said Bogdan Ljutjuk, the head of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. 

To make pysanka, traditional patterns are applied to the eggs with a special needle pen, and then the eggs are dipped in paint. Most of the eggs are made during Easter. The eggs are often taken to church to be blessed and brought home or gifted after the service. 

Pysanka symbols are used to communicate personal wishes and messages. These eggs are not intended to be eaten but are saved. In addition to Easter, eggs are gifted for major life events such as the birth of a child, christening and marriage. Pysanka eggs are also taken to the graves of deceased relatives. You can learn more about the tradition of decorating eggs in the short film that was produced when the application was made

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Tallinn organises egg-decorating master classes for the Ukrainians living in Estonia as well as for other interested people. Other Ukrainian organisations active in Estonia that are located in Sillamäe, Tartu, Kohtla-Järve, Narva and elsewhere are also helping to maintain these traditions. Teaching children and a conscious approach protects the tradition from simplification and commercialism.

Today, on April 4th, Minister of Culture Piret Hartman had a meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador Mariana Betsa and representatives of the Estonian Ukrainian community in connection with the submission of the joint registration application by Estonia and Ukraine.