The Red Eggs of Easter

Discussion in 'Culture' started by easthigh69, Mar 12, 2000.

  1. easthigh69

    easthigh69 Member

    The Red Eggs of Easter

    “When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; while the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure Body; Thou didst rise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of Heaven therefore cried to Thee, O Giver of Life: Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Thy Kingdom! Glory to Thy dispensation, O Thou Who lovest mankind.” (Troparion)

    The ancient idea of the egg as symbol of New Life was readily transferred by the people of early Christendom to become the symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. To the Christians, the Paschal egg became the sealed tomb wherein the body of the Lord had been placed after His crucifixion.

    Tradition tells us that the custom of the egg had its start with St. Mary Magdalene, who is often depicted in icons holding a red egg. She may have been aware that the Romans would know the meaning of the egg as something that brings forth life from a sealed chamber. After Jesus was crucified and rose up to Heaven, Mary was in Rome. When she met with the Roman Emperor Tiberius, she gave him a red colored egg and announced, “Christ is Risen!” She then went on to preach to Tiberius about Jesus. It was an intelligent choice on her part because it was something the Romans would have understood.

    In the early days of Christendom, red was the only color used in coloring the eggs, as it signified the sacred blood of Jesus which had been shed on Calvary. The Greek Orthodox believe that the color red also has protective power. However, other colors commonly used today came gradually into use.

    Tan or ivory shades symbolized the fine linen cloth in which Jesus was bound before being placed in the grave. Green was used for the fresh vegetation of springtime. Blue represented the sky in all of its glory, and purple was used to represent the Passion of Jesus crucified.

    Gathered together, all the many eggs of varied hues represent the glorious springtime in which Christendom does unite to rejoice at the Resurrection of Life. As the people gather from the Paschal services, they see these eggs blessed and distributed to all, and all receive of this commemoration a personal gift and blessing. The worshipers then go about greeting one another with “Christ is Risen!,” and hitting their eggs one upon the other, cracking them. Each person thus greeted, responds, “Indeed He is Risen!”

    The cracking of the red eggs among the Orthodox symbolizes a mutual prayer for breaking one’s bonds of sins and misery and for entering the new life issuing from the resurrection of Jesus. None of the eggs should remain unbroken for the breaking characterizes emphatically that our Lord has conquered death and is risen, granting New Life to all.

    The eating of the egg which follows is symbolic of the breaking of the fast in which, of course, eggs are not eaten.

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