Come Easter, decorating eggs becomes a favorite family activity but with Linda Uchacz and her mother Sophia C., this hasn’t just been about some simple decorations but in fact about keeping up with the tradition of making elaborate, Pysanky-Ukrainian Easter eggs.
Linda, who owns Yarn and Sew On, first started decorating and painting the Easter eggs when she was just 10 or 11. Born in Smithers in 1954, she moved around a lot throughout the years and while she was in Surrey, she even participated in several Ukrainian bazaars in the ’80s through which she sold many of her elaborate Easter eggs.
She has also been teaching classes on decorating Pysanky-Ukrainian Easter eggs all throughout the province as she moved. In the past few years, she has conducted these classes for sewing, knitting, quilting and Easter egg decoration at her shop in Burns Lake. But for Linda herself, the craft was taught by her mother, Sophia.
Sophia, who was born in 1926, moved to Ukraine before Poland took over and her family moved immediately when she was just three years old, to Canada. Sophia doesn’t remember anything from Ukraine or her journey except that she was seasick the whole time. The family first went to Halifax and then Smokey Lake in Alberta. Sophia got this craft from her mother, who believed in maintaining strong roots with the culture and traditions from back home.
Over the years, Sophia and Linda have decorated thousands of eggs, of chicken, banty, ostrich, quail, robins and goose.
“With mum up here, I wanted to make sure I had the supplies out and that we did it this year,” said Uchacz.
Linda has been in Burns Lake for 20 years now. She moved from bookkeeping and accounting to pursue her passion for art and crafts and opened up her shop in 2014.
With COVID, the workshops that Uchacz used to conduct at her shop had to be cancelled however, she has found that more and more people have been shopping locally from her store with the restrictions of travel in place. She is also hoping to start holding the workshops with smaller groups, depending on the restrictions.
Last year in October, due to the pandemic, Linda decided to bring her mother from Vernon to stay with her for a while. Sophia, who hadn’t been able to do her Easter egg tradition with her daughter in three years, has finally been able to do it this year. The mother-daughter duo have been decorating eggs for a couple of months now and this year will be over 55 years since they started this tradition.
She has a few eggs already at her store for sale.
“A lot of people want them but they either don’t have the time or they don’t have the artistic side to do them,” she said, excited to be able to bring these beautiful intrinsic Easter eggs to people.