Sunday, April 8, 2012

Greek Easter & The Red Eggs

Christos Anesti!
Christ is Risen!

My dad's family is Greek Orthodox, and even though I'm not, we still like to celebrate Greek Easter. Teaching my children to say, "Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!" has been one of my parenting highlights.

If you're not familiar, it translates to "Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!"
In Greek, Easter is called Pascha, pronounced PAHS-kha. Or it might be referred to as Anastasi (ah-NAH-stah-see), which means resurrection.

This year, Greek Orthodox Easter is April 15th, but occasionally Orthodox and "Western" Easter line up.

So what makes Greek Easter so special? I'm so glad you asked!

One of the big things we do in MY family is to do Red Eggs.

Red eggs (in Greek: kokkina avga, κόκκινα αυγά, pronounced KOH-kee-nah ahv-GHAH) are perhaps the brightest symbol of Greek Easter, representing the blood of Christ and rebirth. We also dye eggs other colors, but rarely will a Greek Easter be celebrated without lots of red eggs. 

We play a game with these eggs called Tsougrisma and it involves two players and red eggs.
Each player holds a red egg, and one taps the end of her/his egg lightly against the end of the other player's egg. The goal is to crack the opponent's egg. When one end is cracked, the winner uses the same end of her/his egg to try to crack the other end of the opponent's egg.
The player who successfully cracks the eggs of the other players is declared the winner and, it is said, will have good luck during the year.
The word tsougrisma means "clinking together" or "clashing." In Greek: τσούγκρισμα, pronounced TSOO-grees-mah. 

We play around the entire table, you try to crack the eggs of the person to your left and right, and whoever ends up with the last un-cracked egg wins. 

Of course, playing egg games is not what Easter is all about - Protestant or Orthodox.
It's about the Resurrection of Christ. The slaying and raising of the Holy Lamb, the Perfect Sacrifice.
Orthodox Christians (like Catholics, Greek and Russian Orthodoxes) observe Lent - a period of fasting of some sort for 40 days. They attend services on Good Friday and again on Resurrection Sunday. 

But the Eggs... the Eggs white and pure, unblemished like Christ. Dyed RED to show that Christ took on our sins, then cracked like the opening of the empty tomb.
They pretty much sun up Greek Easter for me.

*Just a note, Greek Easter is next week, but we typically celebrate on regular Protestant Easter.


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