In Greece, Easter is the most important religious holiday. However, the Easter bunny does not bring its colorful eggs to this country. Instead, Greek Easter is celebrated with traditions including lamb, candles, and the famous red eggs. But why are they red? And what do these eggs mean to the Greeks? Here is the tradition of the Greek red Easter eggs explained.
Why are the eggs red?
The custom of decorating eggs for Easter dates back to ancient times and can be found in many cultures around the world. In Greece, however, the color of the eggs is fixed. They have to become red. This tradition is a centuries-old custom with deep religious and cultural significance. In fact, the color red symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed on the cross.
Painting the eggs
In Greece, the tradition of dyeing Easter eggs is a multi-day process that begins on Holy Thursday. On this day, families gather to dye the eggs red using natural dyes made from boiling red onion skins or from the madder plant. After the eggs get their red coat, they are left to dry and later decorated with intricate designs using wax and dye.
The decorated eggs are then displayed on the family’s Easter table. Besides, they are exchanged among family and friends as a symbol of love and friendship. On Easter Sunday, the eggs are cracked open and shared among the family as a symbol of new life and resurrection.
Cracking the red eggs
The custom of cracking the red Greek Easter eggs is also a meaningful tradition. Since cracking the red Easter eggs symbolizes the cracking of the tomb of Jesus Christ. The eggs are cracked on Easter Sunday. Either right after the Resurrection Service in front of the church or at home amongst family.
The tradition of cracking the red eggs is called tsougrisma. This is a small and easy game. You take one egg, and you have to tap it against another person’s egg. The goal is to crack other eggs without breaking your own. You can choose which end of the egg you use as long as it is not broken. The person whose egg remains unbroken is considered to be blessed with good luck for the coming year.
A strong tradition
The Greek tradition around red Easter eggs is one of the most widely practiced traditions. It is a cherished part of the country’s cultural heritage. Many families continue to use natural dyes and decorate the eggs with intricate designs, passed down from generation to generation.
The tradition of red Easter eggs is also celebrated by many Greek communities around the world, keeping the customs and culture alive for future generations. I actually cracked my first red Easter eggs in the Netherlands!
Easter in Greece
Easter is one of the most important holidays in the Greek Orthodox Church and is celebrated with great solemnity and reverence. The Easter eggs are just one aspect of the rich tradition and symbolism that surrounds this time of year. Other traditions include lighting the Paschal candle and reading the Passion of Christ. Easter is also a time for family and friends to come together, share meals, and enjoy traditional Easter foods. A spit-roasted lamb and Easter bread are some examples. The celebration of Easter in Greece is a time of joy, renewal, and hope. Besides, every island and region in Greece has its own unique and local traditions related to this special holiday.
If you’re planning on visiting Greece to explore the Easter traditions yourself, keep in mind that Greek (Orthodox) Easter, might not be on the same day as your Easter. This year, Easter will be celebrated on the 16th of April.
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