We’re proud of the cultural diversity at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS). So today we continue a new series called My Traditions – amplifying voices of employees and residents.
One such resident is Ann Kmit — whom we featured briefly in a spotlight of 18 resident authors at Waverly Gardens in North Oaks, Minn.
See: Authors galore! Waverly Gardens celebrates its writers
Ann’s family’s book Eggs Beautiful has sold more than 40,000 copies, spreading the tradition of Ukrainian egg decorating near and far!
It all started with a feeling of homesickness. Ann’s grandmother immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and found comfort in keeping alive the family tradition of decorating Ukrainian Easter eggs.
Later Ann would learn this tradition from her mother, saying, “My mother had some [color] dyes, and she would dye eggs in our kitchen in New York City. I remember being a pest and asking her lots of questions.”
Ukrainian Easter eggs are beautifully ornate with vibrant colors and rich symbolism. By hand, the artist creates intricate designs, then seals them with alternating layers of wax and dyes. After dipping the egg into the final dye, the artist melts away the wax with a candle’s flame. That’s when, Ann explains, “all the colors that you’ve been covering up with wax appear,” and “you can finally see how the design worked out.”
But the artist is not truly finished until blessing someone with the egg. Ann says, for example, “You would give an egg with a chicken design to a young woman who is married and without children. The egg represents fertility.” Ann chuckles, “Over the years, the chicken eggs have been very effective!”
Now more than ever, Ukrainian Easter eggs are lifting spirits in Ukraine and throughout the world. Ann reflects on the Russian invasion of Ukraine: “It just makes me feel so bad that the people are suffering. I’m proud of the Ukrainians ….”
“I have eggs from my mother and grandmother,” Ann continues. “They’re like a little bit of history. You save them and you keep them, and people can say they have something that their grandma held in her hand, that she made beautiful. The eggs will last forever so long as they’re not broken. And if they break, you make another one. You know, it’s not the end of the world.”
Watch and listen as Ann reads from her children's book "This Was The Day! A Ukrainian Easter Story":
Find out how you or an older adult in your life can pursue purpose and make your mark at a PHS community in MN, IA or WI. Visit www.preshomes.org/living-and-care-options/find-a-community.
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Ann Kmit’s family’s Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minneapolis
My Traditions: ‘Happy people make happy food’
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