Kalo Paska (Good Easter)-why red eggs? by Archaeologous
Easter (Kalo Paska) in Greece is the most celebrated holiday of the year with a week long celebration and traditions. It's actually called Megali Evdomada (Big Week). Different places in Greece have different traditions. In the past, all the lights were turned off in Athens and on Saturday at the stroke of midnight, all the lights would come back on in a great spectacle. People would then cry out 'Xristos Anesti!' (Christ is Risen), to which the reply was 'Alithea, Anesti' ('True, He is Risen')! Then, and now, out comes the traditional red dyed eggs which symbolizes the resurrection and new life. (The dyed red is to represent the blood of Christ shed on the cross, the hard shell, the sealed Tomb of Christ, and the cracking symbolizes his freedom from bondage and resurrection from the dead.) Everyone starts cracking their red egg against someone else's to symbolize luck in the new year and wishes of Kalo Paska (Happy Easter) is said to one and all.
Some General Greek Easter Traditions
During Megali Evdomata, there are daily church services, people do not eat meat, oil or diary products until Saturday at midnight - Easter. The Saturday night church service culminates with fireworks. Easter Sunday is filled with breaking the 40 day fast and eating lamb, tsoureki bread, cheese pies, accompanied with music, and good company.
Holy Monday - Megali Deftera. On this first day of Holy Week, the people go to church and kiss the icon of Christ. Holy Tuesday - Megali Triti. A traditional day of mourning. Koulouraki (Easter biscuits) with oil and eggs are baked, but not to be eaten until after midnight Saturday night.
Holy Wednesday - Megali Tetarti. Today, worshippers can be blessed with oil at the special church service. Interestingly enough, all household chores must be finished today. (The fasting and cleanliness of self and surroundings are all a part of the traditions.) Holy Thursday - Megali Pempti. Only today do the women dye eggs red symbolizing the blood of Christ and they bake the delicious sweet Easter bread (Tsoureki) to only be eaten after Saturday. Today's church service is early in the morning when churchgoers will worship by bowing in front of the figure of Christ on the Cross.
Holy Friday - Megali Paraskevi. As today is the sacred day of mourning, you'll hear church bells ringing the somber death knoll all morning.Today is the day of rest with a service held for Christ's funeral. A somber respectful parade through the city, village, town at sunset with villagers carrying the Epitafio (This is a cloth that depicts the body of Jesus.) Songs of lamentation are sung and sometimes rose or other flower petals are thrown to represent the anointing of the Body of Jesus. Holy Saturday - Megali Savvato. Today is an uplifting day where the church is filled with flowers and everyone in the villages is busy. Men are slaughtering lambs for Easter Sunday, and women bake kalitsounia (cheese pies).
The Midnight Easter Service, the Resurrection and Christos Anesti!- Christ is Risen. The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. Most everyone turns out for this tradition. In the church, the Priest passes the Holy Flame around the congregation and then from everywhere you'll hear the joyous cries of Christos Anesti! - Christ is Risen! Fireworks then are lit, red eggs are cracked and the breaking of the 40 day fast happens. The tradition is to eat a meat soup (Mageiritsa), plus the red eggs and the cheese pies (kalitsounia) the women have made.
Easter Sunday - Kyriaki tou Paska Families and friends meet up for the Easter Day roasting of lamb outside on a spit and a big celebration party with food, wine, music and dancing all day long.
How to play the 'game' called tsougrisma (τσουγκρισμα in Greek) now associated with the red eggs: It involves two players and red eggs.
Each player holds their egg painted red. One person will tap at the end of the other person's egg. Your goal is to crack the other's egg and thus if successful, you will have good luck during the year. Archaeologous.com wishes you all a Kalo Paska.
Most important Greek celebration Paska
Game for good luck, tsougrisma (τσουγκρισμα in Greek) Represents the blood of Christ and the Resurrection
Fireworks culminate Greece's week long celebration of Kalo Paska (Christ Arising)