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In Greek culture, Easter is a religious celebration and family gathering time. One tradition stemming from this holiday is the Greek Easter red eggs tradition. This custom has been practiced for thousands of years in Greece and can still be found today.
Kokkina avga (red eggs) are a classic Greek Easter Sunday celebration. They are handcrafted using onion skins or color on fresh eggs. They are subsequently weaved and cooked into a tsoureki (three-braided Easter bread symbolizing the Holy Trinity), used as table decorations, and are the essential item in a lively game called tsougrisma, which tests the strength of the eggs, and potentially the players’ strategy.
Let’s see more of this tradition in detail below!
The tradition of Greek Easter Red Eggs.
Red Easter eggs (cooked eggs) are usually colored on Holy Thursday in Greece. However, they may be done any day before Easter Sunday. In some families, they are the first thing eaten after the challenging fasting of Lent, while others enjoy them after dinner when everyone is gathered around the table to play the game.
The crimson hue represents Christ’s blood and sacrifices on the cross, while the egg represents rebirth. The first red egg colored is said to be the egg of the Virgin Mary and is kept in the house for protection against the evil eye until the following year when a fresh “first egg” is dyed. Others bring the egg to the Anastasi (Christ’s resurrection from the dead) in a midnight church ceremony on Holy Saturday.
The Greek Easter eggs tradition involves decorating eggs with red dye to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. The eggs are then exchanged between family and friends, wishing one another blessings and luck in the new season. This tradition is believed to bring good fortune to those participating in it.
The tradition of Greek Easter Red Eggs cracking.
For generations, Greeks have cracked crimson eggs during Easter. Although it is undoubtedly an enjoyable game, the practice is also deep in religious meaning.
Despite its profound religious significance, egg breaking has grown into a pleasant event for Greeks and others of all ages, which many look forward to each Easter.
How to play the game “tsougrisma” with Easter eggs.
Two individuals tap red painted eggs against one other and shatter them together as they offer the customary Easter greeting, “Christos Anesti!” “Christ has risen!”—”Alithos Anesti!” (“He Has Truly Risen”).
Tsougrisma is a game that everyone can play since the rules are so basic.
Each one has a red egg, and the end of the egg is turned against the end of the other one’s egg. The idea is to shatter your opponent’s egg without breaking your own. So whoever successfully cracks the eggs is the winner!
The rule is to begin at the same end, point to point. When one end of an egg is broken, the winner attempts to break the other intact end of the opponent’s egg using the same end of their egg.
It all boils down to which egg survives unscathed. The player who successfully breaks the other players’ eggs is considered the winner and is supposed to enjoy good luck throughout the year.
When the first player taps the egg, he says to his opponent, “Christos Anesti!” The second person answers, “Alithos Anesti!” as they return the cracking on their end.
That sounds like a fun game, right?
This red-dyed eggs tradition is just one-way Greek culture celebrates Easter. It is an important part of the culture and of special significance to those practicing it. If you ever get the chance to visit Greece during Easter time, be sure to take part in this amazing tradition!
You can also leverage your experience with one of our unique food tours!