September 26th, 2016

Uncover Your Family History

Family

Did you know that if you go back 10 generations in your family tree, you have 1,024 direct-line ancestors? Ten generations may sound like a lot, but if you were born in 1950, ten generations may only bring you back to 1700 – a little over 300 years ago! Direct-line ancestors only include parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on, so each of those 1,024 people directly contributed to your existence.

For some, researching their family tree helps them connect with the past and make sense of where they fit in the scheme of history. For others, genealogy is a deeply emotional experience as it helps them understand where they came from, who they are, and why they do the things they do. Others find genealogy to be an invigorating game of detecting, piecing together clues from documents and family lore to figure out who, what, where, and when, sometimes even why!

If you’re like many, you know the Federal Census is filled with information, but it may seem too daunting to wade through thousands of hand-written records. I invite you to attend one of two sessions called “The Census: Genealogy Goldmine” where I will share tips, tricks and resources on how to scrutinize the data and elevate your family history research. This program will be held at 6pm on Tuesday, October 11 at the Rising Sun Branch and at 6:30pm on Tuesday, October 25 at the Chesapeake City Branch.

Whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned researcher, the 5th Annual Cecil County Genealogy Symposium on Saturday, November 12th is not to be missed. A detailed program of speakers and presenters is almost finalized, be sure to check our website for details.

*Please note, the 5th Annual Genealogy Symposium will be hosted at the Cecil County Government Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Boulevard, Elkton.


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March 22nd, 2016

Pysanky Eggs

PysankyEggsIf you live in the Chesapeake City area of Cecil County, you may already be familiar with the fascinating Ukrainian folk art of pysanky eggs. The Chesapeake City Branch Library will host a program about this amazing folk art on March 22 at 6:30pm with the artists that created the eggs in the display case sharing the rich history of the art and how they are made.

A pysanka egg is…in simple terms…an egg decorated using a wax resist (aka batik) method. The term comes from the Ukrainian verb “pysaty”, which means “to write”. “Pysanka” is the singular form and “pysanky” is the plural. The pysanka egg is so much more than that though. Ukrainians have been decorating eggs and creating these beautiful and intricate works of art for many generations.

In many cultures, ancient people developed myths about the egg…seeing it as an example of creation and the source of life. The intricately colored eggs were used for various social and religious occasions and at times were seen to be a talisman, a protector against evil, as well as a bringer of good and health. Over time, the pysanka tradition was incorporated within the Christian church and they became a form of Ukrainian Easter eggs.

In the past, there was at times a long and involved ritual regarding the decorating of the pysanky eggs. The eggs were made at night after the children were asleep and only the women in the family would work together. Special songs could be sung and the eggs were dyed with special family formulas. The process could take several evenings to finish the beautiful, intricate eggs and within a larger family, 60 eggs could be completed.

There are many different traditional symbols that are used in decorating the eggs. Geometric motifs are popular, as well as some animal and plant elements. You will find a lot of stylized symbols of the sun, which can be seen as a broken cross, triangle and eight-pointed rosette or a star. You can also find flowers, leaves, the tree of life, stags, horses and birds. The Christian influence brought the cross, the church and fish symbols. As pysanka decoration has been passed on through the years, you start to see much more modern decorations and symbols being used.

A specialized instrument called the kistka or ryl’tse is used during the wax resist method to write the design onto the egg with hot beeswax. Wherever the wax is applied, the dye will not penetrate. In the past, artisans prepared their own dyes using natural products such as bark, twigs and leaves of various trees. Today, chemical dyes are mainly used. The dye colors also held meanings at times, such as yellow standing for wealth and fertility and green being the symbol of spring and plant life. Of course, this is a simplified version of the process and there is so much more information about how to create these artful eggs.

I mentioned Chesapeake City earlier, because the Ukrainian people began arriving in Chesapeake City from the Ukraine in 1910. The first bishop in the US for the Ukrainian Byzantine Rite purchased 700 acres of land near Chesapeake City to help the Ukrainian people to settle as farmers and build a Ukrainian community. Traditions such as the pysanka egg were brought with them and every year we have many beautiful eggs on display in the case at the Chesapeake City library.

What is your favorite way to decorate eggs?


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