The egg has a high symbolic meaning in the Greek Orthodox tradition, with different explanations. Greeks dye the Easter Eggs on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), the day that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. While in the recent years the eggs are dyed also in other colors, two things remain traditional for the Greek Easter Eggs: the specific day to dye eggs and the eggs cracking after Jesus Resurrection from the dead.
There are several explanations about why Greek Easter Eggs have to be dyed red.
Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. The hard eggs shell symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Chris.
The egg symbolizes the empty rock tomb from which Jesus Christ arose after Ηis Crucifixion. It is a universal means of greeting and presentation for Christian believers, while it also foretells the eternal life experience awaiting true believers after death.
Why do Greeks dye Easter eggs red?
One of the explanations is that Virgin Mary brought a basket of hard-boiled eggs to the Roman guards and begged them not to torture Jesus. Her tears fell on the eggs that turned red.
Another theory says claims when the Roman Emperor heard of Jesus Resurrection, he thought it was so impossible as red eggs. Then Maria Magdalene dyed some eggs red and brought them to him to confirm the fact.The legend wants that Maria Magdalene went to Caesar Tiberius to announce Jesus Resurrection.
How Maria Magdalene traveled to Rome to meet the Emperor … that’s another story we know nothing about – and we will never know.
Nevertheless, the egg as symbol for life is very old and and it was used in pagan religions during the spring festivities. It marked rebirth birth after winter. Some sociologists say that the tradition of eggs was in old Egypt and Persia and relatives would exchange eggs at the spring equinox.
Early Christians adopted the custom as a symbol for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Modern Greeks continue the tradition of Greek Easter Eggs by the book. Even though some are not believers.
Cracking Eggs (Tsougkrisma)
Cracking or Tapping Eggs is a very old custom that used not only by Greeks. But it seems that only Greeks have kept the tradition until today.
The cracking symbolizes Jesus Resurrection from the dead.
If we consider that the egg shell symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Jesus, it makes a lot of sense to crack it.
The rule of cracking eggs is simple. One holds a hard-boiled egg and taps the egg of another participant with one’s own egg intending to break the other’s, without breaking one’s own.
The person who holds the egg to tap crack the other’s egg says: Christos Anesti – Christ is Risen.
The winner is the one who cracks with his egg the eggs of other players.
I remember as a child we knew were several tricks on how and at which point exactly to tap the egg of the other. Rule number one is that you never have eggs upper side bottom side. the bottom side is softer and breaks more easily.
But why some eggs crack and some do not I never found out.
One should not try to find logical explanations in age-old traditions and rituals.
There is also this explanation: In Jewish culture hard-boiled eggs are part of the Passover Seder celebration. Toward the end of the traditional readings, hard-boiled eggs are distributed among guests, who may then play the egg-tapping game.
there are several ways to dye eggs: with ready dye powder or organic using red onion peels, or even herbal tea.
The traditional way
As there are so called ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ dyes, read carefully the instructions on the dye package.
The organic way
The fancy way
Whether one uses the easy or the organic way the most important point is that the eggs do not break while they are boiling.
How to do that?
Rule Number One: eggs must be boiled before they get dyed.
One tip is to lay a kitchen cloth on the bottom of the pan, then add the eggs and water. The cloth is supposed to prevent the eggs from hitting on the hard pan bottom.
Another tip is to let the eggs boil for 5 min, then turn off the heat, pan top on for another 5 min. However this method does not work on a natural gas stove.
Eggs need always to be in room temperature and placed in the pan in one layer.
Best is to have the eggs shimmer and not boil. If eggs would need 7 min to be hard-boiled, they will need 12 min if one uses the shimmering method.
Cracked eggs should be kept in the refrigerator and be consumer as soon as possible.
Important: rub eggs after they are cold with oil to get the wonderful shine.
Enjoy your Greek Easter Eggs!
PS once I used hibiscus herbal tea to dye eggs. While I was trying o get the perfect bright red color, the eggs turned from very pale pink to aubergine blue and ultimately to grey. I admit: I should have removed them from the dye much much earlier.