My mother began practicing the art of pysanky when I was a kid. I assume it was so she could do something away from us children. Making something beautiful was just a bonus. Pysanky (the word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax) egg decorating is a complex and painstaking process, and I really had no interest in getting anywhere near it in my young parenting years – eggs, hot wax, permanent dye, and small children are one of those combinations that parenting books warn you about. But then one year, my very youngest, very artistic sister came to live with us while she finished up her last year of college. And it just so happened that my small children had, by this time, become sort of grown up children who adored their fashionable and artistic aunt. So, pysanky.
Ember Days occur four times in the church year, at the beginning of each season. In spring, those days are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the first Sunday of Lent. These three days are set apart for fasting, abstinence, and prayer. We know that Ember Days have been observed at least since St. Augustine’s time, and possibly from the time of the Apostles . In fact, the observances may even derive from Jewish tradition in which there were four yearly periods of fasting.