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)
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!
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
Have you ever played the Easter egg cracking game?
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 - rounded loaf
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
phase 2 - making tsoureki during power failure
Tsoureki recipe links
- Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Wonderful blog. This particular post Gives a brief history and information on tsoureki that is not found in most other sites I visited on this subject. Great read. F.B.
- Tsoureki - Country Living
"Custom dictates that eggs, dyed a scarlet red, be baked in the braided crown of this Greek Easter bread."
- Tsoureki (Greek Easter bread): Recipes: UKTV Food
Find a simple and easy to follow resipe on making tsoureki, here. - F.B. "Celebrate Easter this year with Paul Hollywood's version of a traditional Greek treat - a fragrant loaf decorated with dyed eggs"
- Authentic Greek Recipes: Tsoureki
"Authentic local and traditional Greek recipes. These regularly updated easy recipes are prepared by local Greek mothers and grandmothers. Enjoy Greek food as it is cooked and eaten by the Greeks!"