Holiday/Festival – Greek

A tradition of Greek Orthodox Easter is for the host of the Sunday night dinner celebration of Christ’s resurrection to dye red eggs and give them to every guest at the dinner table.  After dinner everyone is supposed to tap the wide part of their egg with their neighbors egg, causing only one to crack.  You continue knocking eggs until only one person’s egg is left un-cracked.  The persons whose egg cracks very last, is suppose to have good luck for the coming year.  Peter said that although this is an entertaining game it also has much meaning behind it.  The dyed red egg represents the tomb of Jesus and cracking it open is symbolic of Christ rising to heaven.  Being one of the biggest holidays in the Orthodox Church, the holy week of Easter is a weeklong event.  On the last day, Sunday, there are many activities that symbolize the rise of Christ.

Doing further research on the topic I learned that many people believe the tradition of dying red eggs dates back to Mary Magdalene.  It is said that Mary Magdalene told a Roman emperor about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  In response to the story the emperor told Mary Magdalene, “he’d be more likely to believe that an egg could turn red than someone could rise from the dead”.  It was at that moment that Mary Magdalene grabbed a handful of eggs showed them to the emperor as they turned bright red.

Being Greek myself and celebrating Easter with my family I have also participated in this tradition.  When I was younger it was always a fun game to play at the dinner table and was one of the few things I could relate to as child.  Being at the Easter service, although important, was never something I enjoyed as a child.  This game of breaking the red eggs was not only one of the few things I enjoyed of the Easter holiday as a kid, but was also the beginning of my understanding of the importance of this religious holiday. Not only that but the concept of the egg being the tomb of Jesus and cracking it symbolizes his rise to heaven was very easy to understand, even as a child.

Papadeas, George L. Greek Orthodox Holy Week and Easter Services. S.N., 1975. 398-412.