Sunday, April 12, 2009
Easter is a fun and meaningful holiday that might just be the best thing that reminds us of the beauty of spring. In our family, we are especially lucky because we get the chance to celebrate two Easters most years. My husband was brought up in the Greek Orthodox Church, and their Easter almost always falls on a different Sunday because of the different calendars used to calcuate the date. The Gregorian calendar--which is used to calculate Greek Easter--is said to be more accurate.
While the significance behind Easter is the same on each date, there are some interesting traditions I have been exposed to since I got married. In Greek families, they dye their eggs red. The egg is the symbol of new life and the red color symbolizes the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross in order to grant Salvation for all men.
Even though our family does not do this, tsoureki--which is a traditional Easter bread--is baked on Holy Thursday. This is also when the eggs are dyed.
Koulourakia (Greek butter cookies) are also baked on Holy Thursday because Holy Friday is a day when very little cooking is done, as it is a day of mourning, not work.
On Easter Sunday, the main meal is always lamb because Christ became known as the Lamb of God in Christian theology. In addition, the Israelites during the time of Moses, painted their doors with lamb's blood so that the Lord would skip over their houses when He passed through Egypt and struck down every firstborn male (Exodus 12:21-30).
After dinner is over, our family plays a game called tsougrisma that involves the red eggs. One person taps his egg against the end of his opponent's egg. The goal is to try and crack the opponent's egg. Whoever's egg does not crack is the winner. The winner then moves on to the next opponent. The last person who has an uncracked egg is declared the winner and is supposed to have good luck during the year.
While our family does not partake in every Greek tradition, we enjoy those we do partake in. If you would like to read more about a typical Greek Easter menu, you can find it here.
Here are a few Easter symbols and their meaning:
The Easter Lily - The white symbolizes the purity of Jesus and their emergence in spring symbolizes new life.
Hot Cross Buns - These sticky buns have a cross of icing on the top to remind people about Christ.
Candles - Symbolic of Jesus being the "Light of the World".
And here is one I never knew about...
The Butterfly - The butterfly's whole life cycle symbolizes the life of Christ. "Its whole life cycle is meant to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ. The first stage, is the caterpillar, which stands for His life on Earth. Second phase begins from the cocoon stage, portraying the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The third and final stage is the butterfly, representing His raising from the dead in a glorified body and peace." (This information taken from www.theholidayspot.com).
No matter which Easter you celebrate, I hope you enjoy it!
Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!)