Every 4 years (or thereabouts), Greek Easter falls on the same Sunday as “American Easter”. For that to happen, Passover has to have been celebratesd already. Afterall, according to the Bible, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. It gets more confusing when Passover and American Easter fall on the same day. It is something like our Easter then falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after Passover. Don’t quote me though, cause I am still confused. In any case, we Greeks do lamb… roasted not chocolate, eggs dyed blood red not pastels, and sweet cookies called koulourakia and kourambiethes. There is also the sweet Easter bread baked with a red egg in the center. All these things are enjoyed after Saturday night Resurrection Service.
From The Greek Reporter Newspaper about the tradition of dying eggs red, “The choice of red — the color of life and victory — bears a long history and dates to ancient Mesopotamia, where early Christians stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Jesus, who was crucified for the salvation of all mankind.The reason the Greek Orthodox Church adopted the custom is still disputed and many sources indicate different reasons.The most renowned story links Mary Magdalene to the red Easter eggs custom, who being the first to have seen the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection, went to the Roman emperor to inform him of the miracle.The emperor, however, didn’t believe what he was told and announced that he would believe the claims of Mary Magdalene only if the eggs in a basket next to him would turn red instantly, which they did.”
So that’s the Orthodox tradition of dying eggs red but why are eggs dyed pastel colors and decorated in the American tradition? From the History website, I found this, “Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.”
Many cherished Easter traditions have been around for centuries but few of us know what they are based in. We’ve been decorating eggs and having egg hunts every year cause that’s what we’ve always done. I suppose that’s enough to keep a tradition alive, but it’s fun to do a little research and find out the “why”behind the tradition. Many families start their own traditions, too, that get passed on from year to year. SO…what about the Easter Bunny?? He’s not mentioned in the bible but you can find out where he came from in the midst of all this egg talk…go to the History website and read it there.
I’ve never heard this but it says that “It is common belief that dyed Easter eggs can stay edible forty days without being refrigerated. If, however, a priest blesses the eggs on Easter Sunday, they are said to last a whole year without turning bad.” I wouldn’t depend on that so do what I do after Easter…make lots of egg salad!!
Meanwhile, as we Greeks say after the Resurrection Service, “Christos Anesti (Christ is risen) and in response, Alithos Anesti (Truly He is risen)”.
See you next time.