Why Greeks Crack Eggs on Easter


According to age-old Greek tradition, Easter eggs are dyed red. The red color represents the blood of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection is celebrated on the holiday of holidays throughout the Greek world. The egg itself represents the sealed tomb of Jesus from which he emerged following his crucifixion.

According to tradition, Holy Thursday is the day that Greeks dye their eggs and red has been the traditional color. In the Western world, and even in Greece, the tradition has started to fade and bright colors, patterns, stickers are used to decorate Easter eggs.


The game of cracking— or “tsougrisma” as the Greeks call it symbolizes the breaking open of the tomb and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The custom takes place after the Resurrection (on Easter Saturday at midnight or the following day during the Easter feasts). Two people compete by holding their respective egg in their hand and tapping at each other’s egg. The goal is to crack the other player’s egg. The winner, then, uses the same end of the egg to tap the other, non cracked end of the opponent’s egg. The “winner” is the one, whose egg will crack the eggs of all the other players.



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  2. Jolynn Ruggerio on

    It’s not only a tradition among Greeks it’s an Orthodox tradition. On several occasions now, I have seen otherwise well written articles on Holy Pascha diminish it’s relevance by being referred to as “Greek Easter”

    Some food for thought…………………………Let me suggest that we do ourselves a serious disservice by referring to our “Feast of Feasts” , Holy Pascha, as “Greek Easter.”

    Greek Orthodox, particularly in America are in fact a small part of a large community of the Holy Orthodox Church.

    There are 260,000,000 Orthodox Christians worldwide, of which 10,000,000 are from Greece and 450,000 are in the GOA. The rest…………….are not Greek.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_by_country.

    So when we refer to Holy Pascha from a particular ethnic origin we separate ourselves from a larger whole. In fact, when one takes into consideration the multitude of Protestant groups as individual Christian denominations, the Orthodox Church is the second largest denomination in the world, second only to the Roman Catholic Church.

    There is then the use of the word Easter. This is a foreign term to Orthodoxy not only for Greeks but in all languages, even in Western Churches………….., except for English.
    Greek: Pascha; French: Pâques; Romanian: Paşti; Portugese: Páscoa; Italian: Pasqua; Spanish: Pascua; Faeroese: páskir; Swedish: påsk; Icelandic: páskar; Welsh: Pasg; Norwegian: Påske; Danish: Påske; Dutch: Pasen; Russia: Paskha; English: Easter.

    Your authors know well, the word Pascha in Greek has deep theological reference to the meaning of this most important feast. Referring back to the OT Passover, when the angel of death passed over the Hebrews in Egypt by the blood of the lamb and a foreshadowing of Christ’s Resurrection conquering death and “passing over” to life eternal.

    The word Easter was adapted for reasons unknown by Anglo/Saxons and somehow caught hold in America, (even though many Western churches in their liturgical language still make use of some form of the word pascha.) Some suggest the word Easter is reference to the pagan fertility goddess Eostrus but their is no definitive proof that in fact is so. That being said, the word Easter has no Christian and certainly no Orthodox basis.

    Personally, I’m not so obtuse as to not wish my non-Orthodox friends Happy Easter I do, however, always refer to the day as Orthodox Easter to my non-Orthodox friends and family..

    Cultural traditions are inextricably linked to our faith practices, and should, enhance our Orthodox faith to a salvific lifstyle, but should not reduce it to ethnic observances.

    As role models of Holy Orthodoxy, let’s strive to be like the Mother of God who said “yes” to God, let’s strive to be like Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles who was the first to see the Risen Christ, and stood in the Roman forum with the Red Egg declaring Christ is Risen! Let’s strive to be like the Myrrh bearing women who approached His tomb without fear. Let’s strive to be like mothers in Soviet Russia who encouraged their sons into the priesthood knowing they would be imprisoned or killed , let’s strive to be like Romanian mothers who secretly recorded liturgical writings to preserve the faith so that one day their seminaries would be built again.

    Lent was first developed as a time of catechesis for those coming into the faith. It is a good time for our own spiritual formation and that of our families.

    During these troubling times it would behoove us to learn and teach our faith correctly and to be enjoined with the whole of Orthodoxy.

    Faithfully yours,

    Jolynn Ruggerio

    Youth Advisor

    St. Haralambos Grekk Orthodox Church

    Niles IL

    • Virginia Salzman on

      I am of Russian Orthodox heritage. I appreciate your point of view regarding the inclusion of all of Orthodoxy under one umbrella, instead of only Greek Orthodox. That’s why I find it odd that your church is named St. Haralambos GREEK Orthodox Church! There are ethnic customs and language that differentiate the various Eastern Orthodox churches, which, in my opinion, strengthen and preserve the faith of its people, and not ‘reduce’ it, as you state.

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  4. Irene Anastasiadis Dauber on

    Wow! Beautifully written. So appreciate the accuracy and content of your written message! Thank you and have a Blessed Pascha and Resurrection Celebration!

  5. I grew up to the following story concerning the red colour of the eggs: the day Jesus resurrected, Mary Magdalene went to his grave which was covered by a huge stone and guarded by soldiers so that none could go in or out. She begged them to let her go in and leave “myron” by the body but when they finally let her in, the body was gone.

    It was noon (also known as first resurrection) and Mary Magdalene ran to spread the news. The first person she came across was a woman holding a basket of eggs. “Jesus has resurrected!” she said excitedly. But the woman looked at her in disbelief and replied “that’s as true as the fact that the eggs in my basket are red”. Miraculously the eggs turned red, confirming the news.

    It is this story that gave us the tradition of red eggs – or so they say where I come from:)
    Happy Easter to all!

  6. The Yazidi have the same tradition and are not Christian. I found a BBC show fascinating when the host visited a Yazidi village (years before Daesh destroyed them). They showed the host their spring ritual of cracking red eggs. I, a Greek American, was amazed that these rituals cross over place and faith.

    • Christos Spyrou on

      Why the amazement? As with almost all “customs”, the vast majority can be found in a host of cultures. The “Easter Egg” is simply another such common custom’ and certainly many thousands of years older than any Abrahamic religions/cultures.

      The practice of decorating eggshells as part of spring rituals is ancient, with decorated, engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa which are 60,000 years old.

      In the pre-dynastic period of Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete, eggs were associated with death and rebirth, as well as with kingship, with decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago. These cultural relationships may have influenced early Christian and Islamic cultures in those areas, as well as through mercantile, religious, and political links from those areas around the Mediterranean.

      The Christian custom of Easter eggs, specifically, started among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red colouring “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion”. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus, with the Roman Ritual, the first edition of which was published in 1610 but which has texts of much older date,

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