Cracking Your Red Easter Eggs and other Greek Orthodox Easter Traditions and Facts

Song sung for Greek Orthodox Easter (video version)

In this HubMob hub

  • Some differences between Greek Orthodox Easter (Pascha) and American Easter
  • When is Greek Easter Calendar
  • The significance of candles (video)
  • Tradition of cracking eggs - info, how to, (with videos of some great Easter egg "fights")
  • Tsoureki - A Greek Easter centerpiece, breaking the fast, gifting, and luck (with videos and recipe links)


Easter Dates

2012 - Easter Sunday - April 15th
2013 - Easter Sunday - May 5th
2014 - Easter Sunday - April 20th (same)
2015 - Easter Sunday - April 12th
2016 - Easter Sunday - May 1st
2017 - Easter Sunday - April 16th (same)
2018 - Easter Sunday - April 8th
2019 - Easter Sunday - April 28th
2020 - Easter Sunday - April 19th
2021 - Easter Sunday - May 2nd

David Sedaris: Jesus Shaves

There is a difference

The first, and most obvious difference you may have noticed about American Easter and Greek Orthodox Easter (Pascha) is that they normally fall on two completely different Sundays. It is a rare happening when the two Easters merge, but it has happened and will again. This year, 2012, Pascha falls on April 15th. In 2014, both easter and western hemespheres will celebrate Easter on April 14th! Yay!

In Greece...

Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic "full moon") is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "vernal equinox"). --(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter for more information, follow the same link.)

These Easters also bring with them some major differences in the way in which these days are prepared for and celebrated.

While Americans are dying their eggs in pastels and stickers, and await the Easter Bunny for great gifts of stuffed animals and cream filled chocolates, the Greeks have something a little different in mind. They are shooting off fireworks, lighting candles and they are dying pot-fulls of crimson red eggs symbolizing the blood of Christ. Easter egg hunts are replaced by egg-cracking games.

There are great feasts at both tables, however these feasts have their differences too. For example, at a Greek table, you will most likely find a lamb as opposed to a ham. And as for rolls, at an orthodox table, you will find at least one loaf of tsoureki, a sweet, buttery, brioche-like bread.

While the differences of this holiday are plentiful and most interesting, one thing is for certain: the more reasons for celebration, the better, so experience both any way you can!

Author's note: This hub by no means covers the vast and complex Greek Orthodox Easter tradition, but instead gives foreigners a general taste of this special celebration.

More Greek Orthodox Easter Traditions -- candles and eggs

Christos Anesti

Frieda's wondering...

Have you ever played the Easter egg cracking game?

  • Yes
  • No
  • What?
See results without voting

Cracking eggs

In Greek culture, eggs are usually dyed on the Thursday before Easter. This particular Thursday is called Red Thursday, or Kokini Pempti. Nothing is done on Good Friday. No one works or cooks. You basically act as though someone in your own family has died. In a sense, someone has, and I think you can guess who that someone might be? Smart egg you are!

For this reason all our eggs are died red. Blood red. Crimson red.

The dye is usually bought from a specialty Greek store, if you live here in the states. That is if you want to get the purest, richest red possible.

Eggs are lighty oiled with olive oil after the dye has dried, to give them that brilliant, luminous shine, and are then set to wait for the great day. Nothing else is done. Nothing fancy. No special decorating as you may see in other Orthodox cultures. Just simple, beautiful, red.

So you've got your eggs, it's Easter Sunday, and you're rearin' to go. Here's what you'll need to know about Greek Egg Fighting, the special game played every Easter with fervor and commitment. There can only be one left standing, and if you're lucky, that one will be you.:

  • It takes two to crack eggs properly.
  • First, you and your partner must chose your eggs. you want an egg that seems as though it would hold up to a good beating.
  • Hold your egg in your fist as though your fist were an egg cup.
  • You will want to chose which side you want facing up first.
  • Tops will smash tops and bottoms will smash bottoms.
  • All actions are done vertically.
  • Next, decide who will try to smash the other's egg first.
  • One person has to say, "Kristos Anesti" (Christ has risen)... The other replies, "Alithos Anesti" (Indeed He has risen).
  • It is very important to attack your partners egg head on, otherwise it is considered cheating.
  • If you have succeeded in cracking your partner's without cracking your own, you get the next hit. (If you started tops, bottoms are next).
  • If no one's egg has cracked, your partner gets a try.
  • The winner is the one with the least damage.
  • The top winner is the one who's egg has withstood it all. Unless of course you are really wanting to eat your egg, because you can't crack it on your own unless it's the very last egg left!.
  • Remember to have fun.

*Did you know? -- A great way to color your eggs red is by cooking them in red onions?

*Did you also know? --Greek Easter usually falls within the sign of Aries, the sign of fire, the sign of, well, red!

I've included some great videos below so you can see this wonderful Easter Egg Cracking tradition in action. Check these out!:

Greek Easter Egg How to and "fight"

Yes, we Greekies can be found in Italy? Check out this video depicting what can often happen during one of these games: Unable to accept the defeat

And to bring in a bit more authenticity, I couldn't pass up sharing this one with you all. Christos Anesti.

Tsoureki - Greek Easter Bread

While tsoureki can be made and served any time of year, it is during Easter that it is topped with crimson Easter eggs. It is often given as a traditional gift with a brief note attached to it. For this reason, large batches should be made. Often times, tsoureki is baked with a foil wrapped coin inserted into the dough prior to cooking. Good luck comes to the person who tears off the piece with the coin. Tsoureki is a staple at any Greek Easter. It is with tsoureki that the fast is finally broken.

As I mentioned above, tsoureki is a sweet, brioche like bread. Its shape is braided and can be shaped finally either as a loaf or in a circle as a wreath. Pre-cooked and dyed eggs can be put in plaits of bread if desired, but it is not necessairily the rule. Most times one egg may be centered on a single loaf. Keep in mind the dye used to color the Easter eggs has the tendency to bleed into the bread. Sesame seeds are commonly used to decorate Easter bread, and can be added by sprinkling them over the dough before cooking.

For more information and for some terrific recipes, please click into the links below (don't forget to bookmark or plus one this page so you can come back). I've also included some humorous and short videos for your very traditional, cultural, tsoureki viewing pleasure. -- you'll see what I mean. =)

Until next time... Enjoy! ~ Frieda Babbley

tsoureki - Greek Easter Bread

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1031632
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1031632

phase 1

phase 2 - making tsoureki during power failure

phase 3

Comments 57 comments

Iphigenia 7 years ago

I did know the different dates for easter - but had not realised just how different the traditions are - they are much more visceral in their imagery in Russia - and in the west we have perhaps become a bit too commercialised ....

"author's note: This hub by no means covers the vast and complex Greek Orthodox Easter tradition." - nevertheless it was a damn good read - thank you


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Hi Frieda! I knew about the different dates for Easter, but had no CRACKING idea about the EGGS!!! Laugh! What fun thing, and the video helps a lot understand how the whole thing works! That supposedly Greek family seem to have plenty of fun with it!


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Great Hub, Frieda.

Looking forward to pascha - I love Easter bread, my friend's mum always cooks me a large bowl of roast artichokes and then we have the procession through Sparta. Getting excited already!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Iphigenia. Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed. And yes, it is different than Russian Orthodox. And one of the reasons I mentioned it as Greek Easter is because we separate ourselves from other Eastern Orthodox religions. Once you learn more, you understand why.

Nice joke Elena, that's a good one. I'm going to have to use it. I was really surprised I couldn't find more videos on a lot of this stuff, but I'm pretty pleased with the ones I did find because they are a lot of fun.

Hi Sufidreamer. You are so LUCKY! I have never been to Greece for a Greek Easter. You should really write about it and take photos! I'd love to see that! Glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for popping in and commenting.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Frieda, the egg-cracking and sweet bread are rich traditions in my Polish family. 

Now, listen up, we all know that the egg crackee will win more often than the egg cracker. :)  (Everybody's got their systems and strategies...and everybody thinks he's right.)  We break the eggs for luck, like we eat herring on New Year's eve.

The bread recipe from Country Living is wonderful.  I have made this bread with the whole boiled eggs many times, and it always amazes me that the eggs survive intact.  And what a beautiful display it makes!  Our Polish Easter bread is babka.  It's almost the same recipe (we leave out the anise and lemon, but add white raisins), but baked in a cake pan so that it has a level bottom with short vertical sides, and the top poofs up.  It looks like a huge mushroom with a very fat stem.

Thumbs up for this happy, happy Hub.  Loved the videos.  That non-red egg cracking get-together looks just like what happens at my family's Easter gathering.  Kids, older folks, people in the middle, male / female challenges...everybody competes with joy.  And everybody gets good luck.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh wow, Sally, thanks for commenting with really cool info! I had no idea polish tradition was so similar in regards to the eggs and bread. It's orthodox too, though, isn't it? Do you all put a coin in your bread too? I always expect something horrible to happen to the egg placed in the bread while cooking. Eggs have very interesting properties. Truth be told, a lot of Greek Americans, and I suppose probably Greeks in other countries too, don't dye only red eggs. My mother was very adamant about their being red. I thought the Country Living recipe was a good one too so I'm glad you agree.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

No coins, Frieda. God forbid somebody should fracture a denture.

About "orthodox", you raise an interesting question, and maybe you will write a Hub on the meaning of that word.

I loved how you illuminated the meaning of red eggs. That's not a part of our Posish tradition, but I loved hearing about it. If only I could join Sufidreamer in Sparta!

Happy Easter.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh that's so funny Sally.  Dentures.  I'm sure that's happened on more than one occation.  Though I think that since it's hoped for, those with or without dentures probably feel around for it before chewing.

You know, I was going to go into that a bit and stopped myself just in time.  It's such a lengthy subject.  Thanks for the topic idea though.  I'll think about a good way to present it.

I sooo am wishing I could be there too.  What a lucky person Sufidreamer is.  Darn it. 


RKHenry profile image

RKHenry 7 years ago from Your neighborhood museum

So much great information.  I'm Jewish, but I do love coloring them Easter eggs!!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks RK. Coloring eggs is loads of fun, no matter what your religion or non religion, that's for sure. Once you get into the egg cracking game, you start doing it every time you get hold of a boiled egg.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Thanks for an interesting Hub. In England people usually have lamb at Easter (even if they are not religious). There is also a traditional cake for Easter, decorated with 11 little balls of marzipan, to represent the disciples except for Judas.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh wow, thanks for the info 2patricias! Thanks for finding interest and sharing some great info with us!


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Hi Frieda, So great to see a hub on the difference between Greek Easter and "Regular" Easter. My husband's family introduced me to Greek Easter. Whole lamb cooking on a spit, with the "cheeks" and the "coucarettes" (innards) being prized sections. Also on the menu trays of spanikopita and baked ziti, lots and lots of retsina to wash it down with. And in addition to the egg cracking ritual, they also smash plates (usually after some Greek dancing and several bottles of retsina and shots of Metaxa).

We typically host "regular" Easter at our house. My son, niece and nephews have become big fans of the egg cracking game! We've Westernized it by using traditionally colored eggs instead of red ones.

Wishing you and yours a happy Greak Orthodox Easter on April 19th (and Happy Easter to all on April 12th). MM


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi Mighty Mom! Very cool! Thanks for sharing. Now you've made me hungry! Can't Easter be now?! I'm dying for tyropita. Thanks for sharing. So do you guys celebrate two Easters or one?


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

fantastic hub, so much detail!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks LondonGirl. Glad you enjoyed. :)


Rochester DJ 7 years ago

I read an interesting article on Chinese Tea Eggs. It seems the eggs are cracked and then soaked in a tea mixture, which gives them a really neat mottled appearance. Seems like the perfect way to "mix" cultures and enjoy the best of both worlds.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Very interesting! Wow. I'm going to check that out this year and see what happens. Thanks for the info. I love trying out new things. That would be a great thing to do with the eggs that crack before you get to cracking lol. I really am going to try that. Thanks for reading!


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

So much great information good hub


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Lgali. Always a pleasure to see you! Glad you stopped in.


Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

Ah, the red eggs. I would love to crack your egg Frieda.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

A thank you would suffice, Paper Moon. Thank you right back at you ;) Shall we crack eachothers eggs, then? I'm game. But I warn you, I always win.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

I never know there is a difference. Well, another learning for me courtesy of your hub.


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

Thank you Frieda for your interesting hub. I live in the UK where easter has become a very commercialised affair, with more attention paid to the commercial side than the spiritual side. At this time of year I celebrate Eostre,the vernal equinox, the new season of growth, a celebration of spring, since I have pagan beleifs. For me the egg is a symbol of new beginnings and new life and red, the colour of life and fire so I can see so many parallels in the Easter Celebrations and the Spring Festival which I celebrate. Since I do not eat meat, I do not lay my table with lamb, but I do prepare a bread similar to the one you descibe, in a plaited form with fruit and seeds in it and often topped with chocolate mini eggs to symbolise the dawn of the new season. Its often sweetend and covered in sugar and is a favourite with the children. We have many different foods, but the theme is generally new spring vegetables, sprouts and new leaves which for us symbolise the new growth and the return of the sunshine to the land. The children still like to find eggs we have hidden around the garden, and the chocolate hares we put around for them to find is a symbol of the moon goddess, the first full moon of which we celebrate this festival on. Thank you for sharing.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thankks JPSO138.  Though I'm pretty sure I'm learning a lot more from your hubs.  And yours are life or death.  It's wonderful to learn new things.  So glad you stopped by for a read and enjoyed. =)

Hi Lou.  Fascinating!  I've noticed many similarities myself.  While both Easters are traditional celebrations for our family (any excuse for a party over here, lol) I can't say I follow the religions themselves to a T by any means.  We too celebrate the equinox, both, and the solstices are a major one for us, with much meaning, though none with any traditional form, so to speak; so it's always an exciting pleasure to find out how others celebrate and the meanings and enjoyments of other religious celebrations.  How similar and exciting the bread is.  Since writing this hub I've found that many other countries and religions make a similar form of tsoureki for various occations and to mean different things and to be served for various reasons and occations.  Have you written a hub about any of your celebrations?  I'd be fascinated.  I'll have to check.  Thanks for sharing your celebration of Eostre with us!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

What a lot of information here; games, food, traditions... and some fantastic videos.

Thanks for such a nice read :) and happy Easter!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Princessa. Love the new avatar. The water's so blue!

Thanks for coming by for a read. Very glad you enjoyed. Thanks, and happy Easter to you too!


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Holy smoke Frieda, I never knew about these activites. Smashing eggs, LMAO. I don't even have to partake in these games, I drop the eggs all time while painting them. I was brought up Russian Orthodox,and yes we paint eggs too.Lovely to look at, a joy to behold,drop them after 2 months, and it is worse than a pig's trough LMAO. Thanks Frieda this was kool.x0x


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hey there BP.  Glad you liked.  Russian Orthodox and Polish Orthodox Easter eggs are sooooo gorgeous.  You do take so much time and care in making them.  As you can see, we are much plainer with ours.  I came across some beautiful and elegant Russian Orthodox egg photos while I was working on this.  I know all about the dropping part, by the way.  I'm a natural at dropping and spilling myself, so I know where you're coming from.  I always make plenty of extra's cause I know that a certain percentage are just not going to make it! LOL.


marcofratelli profile image

marcofratelli 7 years ago from Australia

Yep, we smash eggs on Easter Sunday and say "Christ is risen" also. We also make sweets made from semolina with dates or nuts inside. They are shaped like, and symbolise, the crown of thorns that Jesus was wearing on the cross as well as the "sponge" that he sucked water from when he thirst. As for which day Easter occurs, well we just celebrate it twice! :)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

That is so way cool marcofratelli! The "sponge" huh? How very cool. We're known to put semolina and dates and nuts as well, in the tsoureki. Normally it's plain, semonila comes in second place. And yes, no point in celebrating once what you can celebrate twice. Glad you stopped by. Happy Easters!


CAC 7 years ago

It was so great to find out that others crack eggs at Easter. My grandfather shared this with us as children and now his great great grandchrildren cary on the tradition. I never knew about the red eggs. We always dyed them whatever way we wanted. Grandpa always tested his egg by tapping the end of the egg against his teeth to see how solid it sounded. As we cracked the eggs we would say something he taught us which I assumed was Ukranion for Christ is Risen. I'm sure we continue to mispronounce it now, but we've enjoyed the tradition for generations.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hey there CAC. Thanks for taking the time to comment. What a beautiful memory. I love the egg test! I can picture that. How clever. I bet he never lost! Hmm. I'm going to have to ask my mom if she remembers anyone doing that test. I bet so. Granpa's are a sneaky bunch lol. Thanks for sharing with us.


chillingbreeze profile image

chillingbreeze 7 years ago from India

Another informative article here. I've never known that Cracking eggs but i have the awareness of Greek Easter and American Easter are usually celebrated on two different days. Thanx for sharing


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi chillingbreeze. Thanks much and you're very welcome. Glad you stopped in for a read. :)


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Hi Frieda - Happy Easter for the coming weekend!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Same for you Sufidreamer. Take lots of pictures if you can. Maybe a photo hub for us to enjoy?


tega20002k3 profile image

tega20002k3 7 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

This hub is real informative and great content including pictures. Keep it Up.


my name 7 years ago

cool


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks tega20002k3. Glad you liked.

And thanks my name! lol See, don't have to be a member to leave a comment. Thanks for taking your time to do so!


googleions 6 years ago

find your favorite easter eggs and hidden eggs using this search and have fun http://www.eastereggshunt.com/


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks goggleions.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Ah... a fellow Greek then ... :-)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Yes yes. And a proud one at that. Wonderful to meet you. =D


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 6 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

interesting hub.....thx 4 share


thea kopely 6 years ago

Why do you show an Easter Red Egg Cracking Video with Funky pastel COLORED Eggs?

I thought they were traditionally Red....Mixed messages....

Regardless, great site for some traditional Greek information.

:)


veronica nicholas 6 years ago

this year i finally colored my eggs red as yia, yia used to

(as red as I could get them!) and enjoyed this site. As my husband is Greek i am going to make him sit down and view the videos!


Joanie Ferreria 6 years ago

hey Frida!! I have a question, do the people actually mix it with their hands like in the vid?? tat was really gross and i wuz just wondering if most peeps do that. tanx :) mwah


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks, loveofnight.

Thea kopely, you wouldn't believe the trouble I had getting a good video of the egg cracking. This was the closes I could come to showing how it is done. If I remember, I'll try to look again and see if any new ones have come out. Yes, they ARE traditionally red. That's why I wrote the note about the video just above it. Thanks much. I'm glad that it proves useful.

The bakali around the corner closed down (very disappointing) so this year we could not get the red dye. So much staining anyway. Greek red dye is quite strong! If you read this, let me know what type of dye you used and if the outcome was good. I did have fairly good luck by using red onions to dye them. Did quite a fine job. Hope he liked the videos. Thanks for coming by, veronica.

Joanie, I think they did it in the vats like that because they were in Greece and were making tons of loaves. I would say most do use their hands, but of course smaller batches and better kitchens I'm sure, lol. I know what you mean. But it gets baked. And it's wonderfully tasty. Glad you came by for a read. Fun comment!


Sabrina Messenger 5 years ago

This year (2011) Easter/Pascha will be very special for me. I will be received into the Eastern Orthodox church the day before on Holy Saturday, so while it's not going to be my first American Easter, it WILL be my first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian. I'm really excited about it and looking forward to all the events at church!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Congratulations, Sabrina! How exciting. Hope you have a wonderful time. Enjoy! PS. very cool site; what a great idea!


Sheila 5 years ago

What about boiling the eggs? I didn't see anything about boiling... Do you boil them first before you dye them?


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 4 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Teehee. I'm giggling, but actually, this is a good question, Sheila. You DO want to make sure that the eggs you are using are hard-boiled.


Nik 2 years ago

In 2014 we are having Easter on the 20th. FYI. Typo up above.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 18 months ago from sunny Florida

So glad I found this today The red eggs and the cracking game are new to me. I do think it is a rather lovely tradition.

This is such a wondrous celebratory time...

so glad I learned of this and will be sharing with my family and friends.

Pinned on Awesome HubPages and shared

And know that I will be giving the bread recipe a try too thanks

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 18 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I have learned something new today. Interesting! Thanks!


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 18 months ago

An entertaining hub. I would call it more egg tapping than egg fighting but it is different than how we did things.

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