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Why Greek Easter eggs are red. April 19, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood admit it: We’re Easter egg fanatics. Silence paints Easter eggs, and I collect them. You can see our past speculations on the origins and significance of Easter eggs (“Why eggs for Easter?”), find out how to color your own without chemical dyes (“Natural Easter egg dyes”), and learn about hens who lay different colors of eggs, including sky blue, pink, olive-green, and purple-spangled (“Real live Easter eggs”) by typing these post titles in our search bar at upper right.

So we were thrilled to add to our store of Easter-egg knowledge through an article in our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, called “Celebrate Greek-style Easter” by their food editor, Diane Stoneback. She interviewed John Kikrilis of Yianni’s Taverna, a Greek restaurant in nearby Bethlehem, PA, about the foods of Greek Easter and the meanings behind them. Our friend Ben and Silence have been to Yianni’s and enjoyed the food and atmosphere immensely; we recommend that you give it a try if you’re in the neighborhood. (You can also read the article, find the recipes, see a video of John Kikrilis of Yianni’s Taverna talking about Greek Easter, and view a photo gallery of Greek Easter foods at www.themorningcall.com.)

“Bowls of crimson eggs [symbolizing the blood of Christ] at Yianni’s Taverna are just one way in which the Greek restaurant in Bethlehem will share the customs of Orthodox Easter with guests who dine there on Easter Sunday,” the article begins. The hard-boiled eggs, crimson shells and all, are also incorporated into the braided Greek Easter bread (tsoureki).

It turns out that breaking the crimson eggs is as much part of the tradition as dyeing and eating them. “The bright red eggs, besides symbolizing the blood of Christ, have additional meanings,” Diane notes. “They also symbolize new life and a time for us to get over things that have been holding us back,” John Kikrilis explains. “The eggs’ shells are also like Christ’s tomb. When they’re broken, they symbolize that Christ has risen.”

“But there’s a special way to break them,” the article continues. “Kikrilis explains, ‘You pick up an egg and tap it against an egg held by another person. If one egg cracks and the other doesn’t, the person with the whole egg (or the one that’s closest to being intact), will have good luck for the rest of the year.'” Well, at least he didn’t say that the person whose eggshell shatters will have a year of bad luck!

Our friend Ben and Silence don’t know about the whole egg-cracking business. And frankly, we don’t take to the idea of putting dye on food we’re planning to eat. (We dye blown eggs and keep them, instead, giving the insides to our egg-loving black German shepherd, Shiloh.) But we do love the idea of the eggs symbolizing “new life and a chance to get over things that have been holding us back.” We all need an excuse to get over ourselves and make a fresh start. Maybe it’s time red Easter eggs became part of everyone’s tradition.



1. er - April 20, 2011

There’s no such thing as luck in the Christian vocabulary. I can appreciate the symbolism of the red egg as a way to remember the precious blood of Christ that was shed for sinners who place their faith in Him alone for salvation. However, please leave “luck” out the equation. If we are authentic Christians we, entrust our lives to God’s Sovereignty and Providence – not luck – which is superstition and antithetical to biblical Christianity.

Luck and faith do seem antithetical, Eleni. I don’t know how they came to be intermingled in this particular tradition.

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