It's hard not to feel bad for Poland Every high school history call in the world teaches about the various partitions of Poland, eliciting anger and frustrations on behalf of Poles, a people history nearly forgot (or, arguably, erased) and a country that's been trampled over far too many times.
And yet the mark Poland has left on the world, considering its precarious past and relatively small size, is rather significant.
The pierogi alone has got to be among the most decadent food dishes in all the world, and yet is also deceptive simple in terms of its ingredients: Often just mashed potatoes and dough.
Among the important facts about Poland many people forget is that it's among the world's most Catholic countries – about 95% of Poland's 38 million people are practicing Catholics, which means that about 33 million people Poles celebrate Easter.
And that means there are a hell of a lot of variations on the incredible piece of art you're about to see: Meet the "Pisanki."
What is a Pisanki?
Not to be confused with the aforementioned pierogi, although it's possible you could eat a pisanki if you absolutely had to, a pisanki is, in effect, an extremely ornate Easter egg.
It's not clear exactly when in Polish history the practice of making pisanki, which celebrate both the mystical properties ancient poles associated with the eggs, as well as the rebirth they symbolize every spring, began.
It's possible they pre-date Catholicism, although these days, they are exchanged as gifts on Easter Sunday, i.e. perhaps the most Catholic day of all.
Of course, pisanki are not merely religious objects. They're becoming an increasingly popular fixture in tourist markets throughout the county, so you needn't be a particularly pious person in order to buy one, or even set foot in one of Poland's countless Catholic churches.
How Do You Make Pisanki?
Theoretically, all you need to make pisanki is hollowed out egg shells, wax, dye and some complicated-looking tools to carve out designs on the wax before you dip the egg into the dye. You also need a terrifying-looking apparatus that allows you to hollow out the egg shells after you bore them, not to mention an obscene amount of talent. In short, making pisanki is extremely difficult, even if the Polish pros who do it every year make it look incredibly easy.
To be sure, one of the best ways to learn how to make pisanki (unless, of course, you can find a pisanki-making class), is to watch someone else in action, the potential difficulty of finding the rather traditional tools you need notwithstanding. Click here to watch one of the most clearly-narrated videos on how to make pisanki, or click here to read an extremely detailed article from another of About.com expert.
Are Pisanki Only Found in Poland?
Now, in order to not offend another European country that's been disrespected an unacceptable amount of times throughout history, it should be stated that pisanki are not completely unique to Poland. Most notably, you can find pisanki in Ukraine. In fact, it's where the gorgeous ones pictured in the main image of this article are from.
Beyond this, pisanki are of course easy to find anywhere Poles live – in the United States, for instance, this means Chicago. The Chicago Polish Museum has been known to keep some particularly fine pisanki specimens on display and has, in the past, offered pisanki making classes.
If you visit the museum and find they're not offering classes at the moment, you might ask the staff to put you in touch with a local pisanki maker. Who knows? He or she might invite you over for a night of pisanki designing, and a plate of delicious pierogis.