Memories of Dying Easter Eggs
I have a “crystal clear memory” of dying Easter eggs—of course, that’s because I did it only a few weekends ago.
Just for fun.
Ralph and I don’t have any children, but I became nostalgic.
I remember boiling and dying Easter eggs with my mom in the kitchen, before plastic eggs existed. When I was a kid, my brother and I hunted all over the house to find her brightly-colored Easter eggs,
One year, however, Mom found out that you can hide the eggs too well. After one hideous experience—which I didn’t recall—Mom always stressed the importance of mapping out all the hiding places.
Apparently we missed one. That particular Easter egg was only discovered later by its rotten odor.
The History of Dying Eggs
Dying eggs predates Christianity. In many countries, eggs are seen as a symbol of fertility, new life and rebirth. For thousands of years, Persia—now modern day Iran—has decorated eggs in celebration of their spring “New Year” festival. Other societies have decorated eggs too, for centuries.
But in the Christian tradition, eggs take on a symbolic meaning and are dyed only one color; blood red.
The Spiritual Symbolism of Red Eggs
In the Greek Orthodox Church, red eggs are used in the service. The symbolism is pretty interesting.
Traditionally, the red eggs are blessed and passed out by the priest during Pascha, the Easter service. Pascha takes place Saturday night and into the early Sunday morning hours, when the death of Christ is mourned and His resurrection is celebrated.
- The Red Egg Color represents the blood of Christ.
- The solid shell symbolizes the sealed tomb.
- Cracking the eggshell signifies Christ’s resurrection.
Dying Eggs Red for the Church Service: Fun Facts
On the Wednesday night before the Easter Service, in the kitchen of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Baltimore, two women get busy dying 500 eggs for the upcoming service.
- All the eggs are cooked in large pots containing boiling water, vinegar and Greek red dye.
- The water’s color is beet red.
- Eggs are submerged 2 dozen at a time, for 20 minutes.
- Through experience, the women have learned to use brown eggs instead of white. White eggshells dye a fuchsia or bright pink color, instead of crimson.
- Each freshly dyed egg at this church is rubbed with oil-soaked paper towels and set back into the egg carton to dry. The oil imparts a shine to each egg.
- Some Greek Orthodox Christians who fast during Lent stop eating meat, eggs and dairy, so the red egg becomes the first one they’ve eaten in 40 days.
The Robin’s Eggs
Of course, let’s remember that the “egg dying tradition” didn’t originate with any of our human ancestors. It originated with our Creator. Dying bird’s eggs “robin’s egg blue” was His idea—and I’m still not sure how He does it.
Easter Eggs: History, Origin, Symbolism and Traditions (The Huffington Post)
Tom Hank’s wife Rita explains how the Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Holy Week. (This article has fired me up to visit a Greek Orthodox Church during Easter, sometime in the next few years.)
In Jewish Passover meals all around the world, the egg on the plate is symbolic and the meal is called “Seder.”