The Red Easter Egg

Eggs dyed in Belarusian tradition

Many cultures in Orthodoxy dye their eggs red for Easter. If you are planning on dying your eggs tomorrow will be the day to do so!

There is tradition and meaning tied to the customs behind the eggs.

Mary Magdalene with red egg

Mary Magdalene is traditionally believed to have taught the resurrection of Christ in Rome using an egg

Within our tradition we have a story of Mary Magdalene defending the Orthodox faith before the Emporer. In one story, Mary Magdalene visits Emperor Tiberias (14-37 A.D.) and proclaimed to him Christ’s Resurrection. She brought him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: “Christ is Risen!” Then she told the emperor that in his Province of Judea the unjustly condemned Jesus the Galilean, a holy man, a miracleworker, powerful before God and all mankind, had been executed at the instigation of the Jewish High Priests, and the sentence confirmed by the procurator appointed by Tiberias, Pontius Pilate. (oca.org)

In another version of the story the Emporer doubts Mary Magdalene. Scoffing her faith he tells her, “Christ rose from the dead as surely as that egg in your hand will turn red!” The egg immedeately changed a shade of blood red and the emporer was converted to the faith.

Yet another story relates that Mary Magdalene was carrying a basket of red eggs to the tomb for the other women and the eggs turned red when she saw the risen Lord.

These stories do not necessarily conflict, and the message is more important than the validity of the minuta details: that Christ the Lord is Risen and that the eggs can be used as a symbol of resurection.

Symbolism with the Egg

cracking eggs

Cracking eggs at Easter symbolizes the breaking of the wax seal on the tomb of Christ

  • The eggshell itself represents the tomb of Christ.
  • The egg contains life, just as the tomb contains Christ who IS life.
  • The egg contains NEW life, just as Christ RENEWED eternal life for us.
  • Cracking the eggs with the greeting “Christ is Risen” represents the seal of the tomb cracked open when Christ rose from the dead. This is done in MANY traditions, regardless of the decoration on the egg shells.
  • Red Dye symbolizes the blood of Christ, and so the eggs should be dyed on Holy Thursday

Dying Your Eggs

The BEST dyes can be found in the ethnic stores. In order to get the truly blood red eggs the trick is to NOT follow the directions. Double the amount of dye but DO NOT double the water.

When the eggs finish and cool, coat with a light layer of olive oil to get the shine. It also deepens the hue slightly.

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