First Multicultural Spring Tree Decorated at UNL

Photo Credit: UNL Multicultural Spring Tree
UNL Multicultural Spring Tree
Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:41

by Blair Mills

On Thursday, March 28, the UNL Russian Club, Czech Komenský Club, Global Studies Program, and the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures came together to host an event that celebrates Spring traditions from around the world. The event was organized by Dr. Olha Tytarenko (Russian program), Dr. Emira Ibrahimpašić (Global Studies), and Dr. Hana Waisserova (Czech program). Tytarenko says that the goal of this event was to showcase various traditions, to encourage the study of different cultures and languages, to promote diversity, inclusion, intercultural awareness and tolerance, and celebrate spring. Students crafted paper decorations and decorated eggs according to the traditions of France, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Japan.

Professors from different sections of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures shared a few interesting facts about their respective cultures. Dr. Christiane Jensen says that in Germany, for Easter, it is customary to first, either hard boil or empty an egg. Then, they paint or dye the egg and hang them on an Easter egg tree. The designs usually have no meaning. However, there is a Sorbian tradition within Germany in which eggs are painted with designs that have symbolism. For example, honeycomb symbolizes Spring and diligence; sunbeams symbolize the light, the recurrence of Spring and the awakening of nature; Pine Tree Branches stand for health; Wolf’s-Tooth protects against evil and gives strength, etc.

The tradition of painting eggs is held in Russia, Czech Republic, and Ukraine as well. Students who attended the event were able to paint foam eggs with traditional designs from these countries. Students also used threads of different color and glue to create intricate designed on fake eggs. The Japanese club decorated the tree with cherry blossoms, a common springtime sight in Japan and a symbol of natural beauty.

People decorating tree

Dr. Catherine Johnson from the French section says that in France, the practice of decorating eggs is not quite as common as crafting paper flowers or other spring-themed paper decorations. Instead of hanging them from trees, the decorations are scattered throughout the house. Students from the French section also made paper fish in reference to a common prank played on April Fool’s Day in which people will cut out paper fish, stick them on their friends’ backs, and to see how long before the friend will notice.

Students, who attended the event had a chance to get to know each other and create his or her own unique decoration for the "Multicultural Spring Tree." The tree is now located at Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center and everyone can stop by and take a look at this beautiful multicultural piece of art.