Greek Orthodox Easter and the Tradition of the Red Eggs
The Orthodox faith has strong ties to tradition in its culture. In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred observance. The preparations and customs, including traditional foods and large feasts, are essential in modern Greek life. And the Red Egg at Easter is one of many of these traditions carried on by all Greek's.
These red eggs are typically boiled and dyed on Holy Thursday to prepare the traditional Easter meal, served in the early morning hours of Sunday after the Midnight Pascha service. Once home after the service, everyone gathers around the table for a traditional meal to break the fast.
The traditional meal includes mayiritsa soup, tsoureki (sweet bread), and red eggs. Before eating the hard-boiled eggs, there's a traditional challenge called tsougrisma. Holding your egg, you tap the end against the end of your opponent's egg, trying to crack it. It's a game enjoyed by the whole family. Often many extra eggs are made to continue the game Sunday evening when more friends and family gather to celebrate Easter.
So why is the orthodox Easter typically on a different day than all the other Christians?
The Orthodox and Catholic Easter typically fall on different dates. Unlike many other Western Christian countries, the Orthodox Easter, or Pascha, is a government religious occasion in Greece.
In 2022 the United States and most European nations celebrate Easter on April 17. Along with many other ethnic Orthodox Christians, Greek Christians will adhere to the date for Orthodox Easter, which falls a week after — on April 24. The differences in celebrating the holiday can trace back thousands of years.
In 325 AD, the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council came up with a uniform way of setting a date for Christians. They decreed that Easter was celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox — but always after Passover.
To this day, the Orthodox have stuck with this method of calculating the date of the feast, leading to it usually falling later than in the Western Catholic Christian world. In some years, however, Eastern and Western Easter fall on the same date, which will happen again in the year 2025.
In 1923, a group of Orthodox churches met in Istanbul to re-examine the calendar issue. Eventually adopting a controversial position that important religious dates would follow the more astrologically accurate Georgian calendar used by the Catholics — all except Easter due to the need to have Passover before Easter Sunday.