I have been asked two questions actually, over and over again. I will try and explain both as simply as I can. 1) Why does the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate Easter after the Western Churches and, 2) Why do Greeks and many of the Orthodox faith color their eggs red and only red on Easter?
I will try and explain these questions as simply as I can.
The Story of The Two Easters
First, why does the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate Easter after the Western Churches.?
The opinions and differences between East and West many years ago was vast. They clashed over the proper date to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Orthodox faith believes that Easter be celebrated following the first full moon and the first day of Spring but always, after the Hebrew Passover. This maintains The Biblical sequence of events.
In so many ways we are so alike, but different. Easter starts with the separation of four weeks between East and West. The next year we are separated by three weeks and the next by two. By the end of the fourth year, we come together to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Differences yes, but what is most important, our belief as Christians is the same, and this will never change.
Why Are Greek Easter Eggs Red?
Now to answer the question, why do Greeks and many of the Orthodox faith color their eggs only red?
On the first Easter, Christ was found and brought to Pilot. Pilot who found no guilt of crime in Jesus, washed his hands and gave the people the choice. Freedom for the criminal, named Barabas, or freedom for Jesus. They chose Barabas, the criminal, and our Lord was crucified on the cross.
The red egg symbolizes the blood Jesus shed while asking God, thy Father, to forgive our sins. It also symbolizes our strong belief in Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Orthodox Easter Tradition
Every year since I was born, my Angel Mother would boil eggs and color them red. This is our Easter tradition that has lived with the Greeks for many ages and will never change because of the meaning of the red egg.
To go on—
When I was about 8 years old. I wanted to know why all the other kids had colored eggs, and we only had the red ones on our Easter.
My Mother told the story of the red egg and the miracle brought forth by an Angel.
The First Easter
On the first Friday and after the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, there were black clouds
all over the city. The wind was howling and it rained like never before. There was no let up for two days.
On a farm near a meadow, there lived an old farmer and his wife. The wind and rain was so much that they tried closing the outside shutters to keep the cold out. With no luck they huddled together near their wood stove and couldn’t understand what was happening. It was like the end of the world had come.
At last, on the third day, Sunday, the clouds moved off and you could see the sun trying to come out. Finally, it gave way to a beautiful sunny day.
The farmer’s wife decided to go to the chicken coop and gather the eggs that were not retrieved for two days. She wore her apron and carried a small basket to place and carry the eggs.
Now, hurrying along through a small field, she arrived at the chicken coop and entered. She started to collect the eggs and found there were many. “This small basket won’t do,” she thought and started to place the eggs, instead, in her apron.
She held her apron high as not to drop the eggs, left the chicken coop, and headed through the field.
All of a sudden the sky opened up above her and the sun was extremely bright. So bright that she stopped for a moment and looked up.
There, she saw an Angel high above her, and the farmer’s wife quickly fell to her knees. Still holding her apron high as not to drop the eggs she then looked down, for the sun around the Angel was too bright and blinding.
Then the beautiful Angel spoke and said, “Behold, Christ Has Risen.” Do you believe? If you believe, the eggs you carry will turn to crimson. The farmer’s wife answered the Angel and said, “Yes, I do believe.”
Not only did the eggs turn crimson, they multiplied and the Angel disappeared into the sky.
The farmer’s wife could hardly hold the apron high, but she managed and through the small field she went. She could hardly wait to tell of the miracle of the red eggs and that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Has Risen.
Happily, the two farmers visited their nearby village and handed out the red eggs with a smile and sang, “Jesus Christ Has Risen.”
This was the first Easter, and the story of the red eggs will live on along with our belief as Christians.
A Poem For All Christians
At this time I would like to share a poem for all Christians.
OUR LORD HAS RISEN
Easter time our Lord has risen
And all sins are now forgiven
A new day has come
Life’s journey not yet done
We step into the light
And walk with pride
With Jesus by our side
P.S. The Orthodox Easter is on May 1st, 2016.