". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, April 3, 2010


When I was growing up, my maternal great-grandmother and I used to make these eggs for Easter -- though nothing this elaborate, of course.  My grandmother, my great-grandmother's daughter, frowned upon this elaborate custom and grumbled every year we did this.  I thought it was because it messed up her kitchen (Great Grandma lived with her).  But much later I realized it was because this was a Polish custom, Catholic, in our overwhelmingly  Protestant, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Swedes and Germans, which we too, were.  Except Great-Grandma -- she was Polish and came from a Catholic background.  She renounced her Roman church upbringing in order to marry my rigidly Lutheran, Swedish great-grandfather, before they moved to North Dakota.  It was one of many family secrets concealed from us, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  As I was in the age cohort of the first great grandchildren born, I spent a great deal of time cared for in my earliest years by Great Grandma (whereas her death arrived before my third sibling reached the age of consciousness), and thereby absorbed a great deal of information, that, though I wasn't able to process it until much later, made a great deal of sense out of what was so mysterious as to be a negative space in my understanding.  Great Grandma could speak Swedish and German like both sets of our grandparents (while our parents could speak only English), but there was another language, in which she sang.

Pisanki comes from the Polish verb pisac, "to write."

Doesn't it seem likely that the famous Fabergé eggs are inspired by this traditional Easter egg?

You can see more about the Pisanki tradition here.

Happy Easter!


K. said...

Those eggs are elaborate! They look like year-long projects.

I wonder if you g-gma ever had regrets about changing her religion to move to NDak with a rigid Lutheran. She must have really loved him. Do you know where they moved from?

With my grandparents, it was the other way around: He converted to Catholicism to marry her.

Foxessa said...

I have no idea. She was born in the 'old country.' Her experience was so different from the other great grandparents as I understand it from this perspective. But she was the only great grandparent I knew. She told me about locusts eating their crops.

Love, C.