USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Greek Easter’
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Symbolizing that Christ Has Risen Through Greek Easter Eggs

The informant shared a Greek Easter tradition of cracking red eggs with me, while her younger sister provided supporting information. The game starts with every member of a family receiving an egg, and then cracking it against someone else’s egg. Whoever’s egg remains un-cracked at the end of the game receives good luck for the year.

Informant: The Greek eggs are dyed red because it signifies the blood of christ… the red… and um they can only be dyed red on Thursday… Maundy-Thursday. And also when you crack the eggs … when you crack the eggs it’s like Christ being released from the tomb

Support: the shell symbolizes the tomb 

Me: Do you practice this every year for easter?

Informant: Yes, yes. The interesting thing is that depending on the calendar. Sometimes Greek Easter and regular Easter are the same day. And other times it can be as many as  4 weeks apart?

Support: Yes, Greek easter has to be after the Passover and it has to be the first full moon of the month

Informant: After the first full moon

Support: Yes after, there has to be Passover and then after the first full moon. It has to be after that. Because the last supper was a Passover dinner, so we’re on a different calendar. We’re not on the Gregorian calendar, we’re on the Julian Calendar.

Informant: But in the American tradition, Easter is the same time as Passover because that’s when Jesus went into Jerusalem was before the Passover. But the Greeks have a different date for the Passover I guess.

Support: It’s because we’re on a different calendar. But it can’t be celebrated before, so those two things.. Passover and the full moon dictate when we celebrate.  

 

Context: 

The Informant is a Greek woman who was born in the United States. She currently lives in Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA. Though she was not born in Greece, her parents immigrated to the US and she was born into a very Greek community in Phoenix, AZ. The performance was held during an Easter party, in front of her younger sister, who provided supporting information, as well as me.

Analysis:
Being part Greek, I have always been aware of the ‘Red Egg’ tradition my family practices during Easter. However, I never knew how in depth it went as a cultural practice. For me, it was just a game where the winner would receive good luck for the year, but as I talked with the informant I discovered that it was so much more. The tradition represents the many different components of Easter in one unified ritual.

 

For more information on Greek Easter eggs and why they are dyed red, you can reference page 25 of Greece by Gina DeAngelis.

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Greek Easter Bread

The informant was sharing an important Greek Easter tradition within her family:

*Names are reduced to initials

Me: Can you tell me about the Easter bread you make?

Informant: Tsoureki is a traditional Greek Easter bread that’s prepared during Greek Easter week. It’s usually braided and the red eggs go into it. It’s all we served on Easter Sunday. And um…it’s a sweet bread and again, the egg symbolizes resurrection.

Me: Yum!

Informant: Sometime’s It’s braided and sometimes it’s braided in a round loaf with a cross on the top,

Support: which is our family tradition

Informant: Lots of Greeks do it though. The cross is a byzantine cross so it’s this shape

*She shows me her necklace*

Support: The curled edge is how I make it. Our family recipe came from my great-aunt that’s Aunt G. That’s where we get the recipe from.

Context: 

The Informant is a Greek woman who was born in the United States. She currently lives in Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA. Though she was not born in Greece, her parents immigrated to the US and she was born into a very Greek community in Phoenix, AZ. The performance was held during an Easter party, in front of her younger sister.While the informant does not usually make the bread, her younger sister always does and she provided supporting information.

Analysis:
It’s very interesting how humans can adapt easily but also stick to tradition as we see with the bread. The recipe has been passed down through generations and while there are so many different recipes this one stuck and has meaning. The way the bread is formed has also stuck as the sister describe, as she always makes it in a curled manner. Finally, the younger sister is always the one who makes the bread for the family, which shows her role in maintaining the family tradition. It is very interesting that people are so adaptable, but also find ways to maintain systems that work.

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Greek Orthodox Easter Egg Game

The following Greek Orthodox easter tradition was performed in New/North  on April 24th, 2019

According to the informant, the Greek orthodox church also has traditions involving eggs.

“There’s a game I love to play where we dye eggs red, which is meant to be the blood that Jesus sacrificed. Then you hit two eggs top top, bottom bottom and crack them against each other.” The game ends when an egg cracks, and the uncracked egg wins.

“ Whenever you do it you say “christós anésti“ which translates to “christ is risen”, and then other person says back “pragmatiká échei anévei” meaning “truly he has risen.” This game is fun for kids but also has serious meaning with the red dye symbolism. Children grow up learning about their faith because of the games attached, just as the informant did.

 

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Greek Easter

A is an 18-year-old woman. She is currently studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She considers her nationality to be American, but more specifically she is one quarter Greek Cypriote, one quarter German and half Argentinian. that being said, she strongly identifies with her Greek roots. She is fluent in both English and Greek, and is currently learning Mandarin.

A: I have a fun Easter family tradition.

Me: Yeah?

A: It’s kind of Greek Easter thing, but after you paint the eggs you put them in the refrigerator, and after you have Easter dinner, everybody pulls out the eggs, they’re all different colors, you choose an egg of your favorite color, and then you fight each other’s eggs. So you like, you’ll each have an egg and then you like crack it, and whichever egg cracks, loses. And like you do this with different family members until at the end one person is left with an un-cracked egg.

Me: Do they win something?

A: They win like god luck for Easter.

Me: So you pick the one that you painted? Or does someone paint all of the eggs and you choose from those?

A: For me it was always like somebody painted all of them and you picked the one that you want, which for me, I always tried to pick the coldest egg, ’cause it was like the hardest egg. Yeah. I won a lot them when I was younger. So, yeah, that was fun.

A talks about a family tradition which they do every year on Greek Easter. She has fond memories of the tradition as she won many times growing up, also because she laughed and smiled a lot in her interview. Though she does not live in Greece, or more specifically Cyprus, where her grandparents live, she still celebrates the Greek traditions that have been passed down though her family.

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