THE “RED EGG” EASTER TRADITION
Easter time is also a time when all the family can participate in the preparations and festivities and I have included some hints and ideas on how to decorate the dyed eggs that you can also involve your children or Grandchildren. Although Greek Orthodox followers do not generally dye their eggs colours other than red, many other Eastern Orthodox faiths do. Why not dye eggs in different colours?
Check the manufactures instructions. Add a decorative pattern on your eggs. After colouring your eggs, add some stickers. Dyes which also come in green, blue and yellow. For recipe follow the commercial
dye recipe and check the packet for lighter colour, allow the dye to dry. Apply sticky dots or magic tape and dye again in a darker colour. Remove the tape when the eggs are cooled and expose the pattern in
the lighter colour. Make sure you reduce the cooking time to 7 to 10 minutes in each different colour dye to avoid overcooking the eggs. Or use a traditional “decorative” approach. This method was given to me by a Greek Cypriot friend. Place a small leaf or pressed flower on the egg shell. Put the egg in a nylon stocking tie a knot tightly at each end so the leaf or flower does not move. Place the stocking with eggs into the dye and follow either recipe provided. When eggs are cooked, allow to cool before removing from stocking and polish.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EASTER
Easter is the most revered and celebrated of all the spiritual rituals of the Greek Orthodox Calender. In some parts of Greece, the Sunday before Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera) there is a custom to eat an egg at the end of the meal, following which the accompanying phrase is said “With an egg I close my mouth and with an egg I shall open my mouth once again”. The closure of one’s mouth represents the six week period of “Great Lent” and the egg which breaks the fast is the egg refers to the dyed red which is broken to celebrate Christ’s resurrection following Anastasi. One of the many things that help to make Easter special is the tradition of breaking the “Red Egg”. Every Kazzie home, as is the case in most Greek households, baskets are filled with dyed Red eggs which are offered to newly arrived guests to select and partake in the egg cracking ritual with their hosts.
Preparation of the dyed eggs traditional is carried out on Holy Thursday or “Kokkinopempti” (Red Thursday). Eggs can also be dyed on Holy Saturday or any other day of Lent with the exception of Good Friday. Traditionally the eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood that Christ shed on the cross at the crucifixion. The cracking of the egg symbolises the opening of the Tomb and the resurrection of Christ.
The most religious of Greek Orthodox followers will place the first red egg dyed (also known as the egg of Virgin Mary) or the one collected from the “Anastasi” or the midnight mass service held on Holy Saturday evening, at the household’s ikonostasi to protect the family from the “evil eye”. Red eggs are also used to decorate Easter Tsoureki and “avgoules” or large Koulorakia.