Tag Archives: easter

Greek Red Egg Cracking on Easter


I have a Greek friend whose family still practices lots of older Greek folk traditions. One of these is an Easter tradition involving eggs that are dyed red. Everyone takes one and they begin smashing them against each other, two at a time. Typically, when two eggs meet, only one of them cracks. The person whose egg is left untarnished is said to have good luck for the rest of the year! It’s almost like a competition or a game, and my friend told me there’s some strategy to it, since you can use either side of the egg to hit someone else’s.


My friend doesn’t really believe in the superstitious aspects of Greek traditions, even if his mother and extended family do. He does, however, enjoy participating because some Greek traditions are very fun, like this one. My friend didn’t really know the significance of the eggs cracking or why they were painted red. We had to do some research to find out that the cracking of an egg symbolizes Jesus’ opening of the tomb he was buried in, and the red dye is to symbolize Jesus’ blood shed on the cross. He told me that his grandma definitely knew about this but had not discussed it to him as a child, probably because of its grotesque nature. For my friend’s Greek family, the tradition has a significance greater than its religious one because it brings the family together for the holiday.


I did some more research on my own and found out that some people attribute the egg tradition to Mary Magdalene, whose cooked eggs miraculously turned vibrant red when she witnessed Jesus rising from the grave. Easter egg painting has remained a tradition across Europe and into the Americas. In America, where religious tradition has become remarkably secular, Easter egg painting has become a simple activity to entertain kids on the holiday. In my friend’s family, however, I believe the intention was to teach children about important religious stories and celebrations. Painting eggs red and cracking them is an easy way to remember what happened when Jesus rose from the dead. My friend may have been too young for the lesson to be taught, but he did know his grandma to be a teacher of religious stories to her chidlren and grandchildren.

Easter Tradition

“A tradition I have is every year for Easter my whole extended family goes to Cabo. Since Easter is on a Sunday and most of us have school the next day, we celebrate Easter on Saturday because we have to leave on Sunday. During the day we hangout and paint and decorate eggs which will be turned into deviled eggs in a couple hours. Then, we get ready for our easter egg hunt which only involves the grandkids. There are eggs sitting on the grass on the floor, however those eggs are only for the very very young kids. Each of us has a basket we need to find and as well as candy eggs and baskets there are golden eggs that contain different amounts of money. Since we are getting older, it is starting to get competitive because we all want the money. My grandpa always gives us some hints and sometimes our parents do too. After the hunt, we all open our baskets then get into teams and play croquet. After croquet, we all have a nice dinner together at the house.”

The informant does this every year on Easter weekend in Cabo, Mexico. Her whole family is involved, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Her grandpa helps hide the eggs and gives them hints when necessary. Her parents get all of her siblings small baskets, the other parents give their kids baskets as well, which are full of small gifts like bracelets and chocolate. She believes Easter egg hunting has always been a thing for Easter, and her family has been doing this for as long as she can remember.

The tradition is part of the widely held celebration of Easter, the Christian day on which Jesus Christ was said to have risen from the dead after his crusifiction. On this day, it is common for children to hunt for Easter eggs, which are colorful plastic eggs full of candy. This holiday is often spent with family and friends and is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the Spring Equinox. Although the holiday is now a large part of the holiday economy and is very consumerist, it started as a celebration of the coming of Spring before it was Christanized. It is celebrated around the world as an important Christian holiday.

Capirotada Cultural Dish

Informant Info:

  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Age: 50
  • Residence: Los Angeles 
  • Primary language: Spanish 
  • Relationship: mother 


Capirotada(cultural food) 


EP explained to me the cultural and religious significance of the traditional Mexican capirotada dish. The capirotada dish is made during a specific season, as EP says, “la temporada de cuaresma.” Cuaresma is basically the Lenten period, in which Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter occur. She views this period of time in which she prepares for the death and the resurrection of Jesus by fasting and making this cultural dish. She learned this traditional dish from her mother who would make it during the Lenten period. EP goes into depth on the ingredients of the Capirotada, “La canela, clavo, y piloncillo se cuece, y así se hace la miel que se pone arriba de todos los ingredientes antes de hornear.” She first makes a sort of sweet juice/syrup to put on top of the ingredients. The ingredients consist of: white bolillo bread, tortillas, bananas, apples, queso fresco, raisins, prunes, viznaga, different types of nuts and dried fruits, etc. She said that you put the syrup that was made prior on top of all the ingredients and then you can bake it. 


Capirotada is made in different ways, and it also depends on the preference of the person making the dish. Not everyone will make it the same; each person has their own touch. I have grown up eating capirotada as well, but when I would ask other people if they had tried or heard of it before, they would say no. It is a dish that is not as commonly made or known. When I was younger, I always thought it wasn’t something I wanted to eat, but as I grew older I learned to appreciate and actually love to eat the dish. While the capirotada might not look as physically appealing as other desserts, it is truly delicious and holds a special place in our Mexican culture.

Midnight Mass on Greek Easter

Text: Well you know, there’s a lot of traditions in the church and such. I mean we don’t really go to church a lot so I don’t remember that well. But, on Greek Easter there’s Midnight Mass. You know you go to church around 11pm and when you get there you buy a candle – it’s supposed to be a donation to the church. They’re usually not expensive. Some people bring their own candles, but not a lot. People also tend to dress up because it’s a big holiday in the church. You go in, there’s a service, it’s usually pretty crowded. They go through it kind of like a regular service, but sometimes with special passages or things they read for Easter. The priest talks about things. And then around maybe 11:45, everyone stands, and they turn off all the lights in the church so it’s completely dark. The altar boys and the priests start lighting everyone’s candles and then you kind of pass the light down all the rows lighting each other’s candles, until the whole church is kind of lit up, bright from the candlelight. Then everyone sings, and the kind of chant you know Christos Anesti, Christ has risen. Alithos Anesti, yes he has. And I think the idea is that Christ is rising at midnight and around midnight they open the doors and everyone files outside with their candles, talks to each other, it’s very pretty really.  

Context: M was born and raised in Southern California. Both his parents are of Greek descent, he is a second-generation American on his mother’s side and a third-generation American on his father’s side. M does not actively practice Greek Orthodoxy, but does consider himself a Christian. 
Analysis: The phrases Christos Anesti and Alithos Anesti are also used as a greeting and a goodbye during Easter time by Greek people. Easter, the day when Christ rises after having been crucified and entombed for three days, is as M notes one of the most important holidays in the church. It is preceded by lent, beginning on Clean Monday, which follows through to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday (on which lent ends). Lent is supposed to be a time of fasting and often followers of the Christian faith attempt to give up something which is not good for them, or do something good for them which is typically personally difficult. Each of these holy days have a different service and tradition associated with them in the Greek Church. The midnight mass M describes takes place on Holy Saturday and is followed by an early breakfast after the church service on Sunday to break the fast from lent. The Orthodox Easter midnight mass mirrors the Christmas midnight mass which occurs on Christmas Eve. The candles M describes are often bought for children by their god parents, and represent Christ’s resurrection, or Christ’s light– his transition from the darkness of the tomb to the light of the world.

Simnel Cake or Judas doesn’t get a marzipan egg for Easter

S is 54, he lived in England where his mother is from for the first ten years of his life before his family moved to California. He is soft spoken and pauses thoughtfully while speaking. He told me about this Easter tradition of a cake his mother used to bake.

“And then this is something my mom did… I’ve never heard it done anywhere else… for Easter she would bake a cake and make eleven marzipan eggs and put them on top of it… and it represented each of the disciples… except for Judas (laughs). I think it was a white cake… or I think a plain yellow… we always went outside and took an Easter picture with one of us five kids holding the cake.”

When I researched this, I found that this is a traditional cake known as a Simnel Cake. This tradition goes back to medieval times and started out as something more like bread than cake. Simnel comes from the Latin Simila – a fine white flour. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was something more like pudding. It wasn’t until the 19th century that it became recognizable as cake and the marzipan eggs don’t appear until the 20th century. It is described as a fruit cake, but lighter than the traditional Christmas version. S didn’t mention fruit in the one his mom used to make, but the white cake would have been in line with the original use of fine white flour. For more information and a recipe please see https://britishfoodhistory.com/2018/03/19/simnel-cake/