Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter egg traditions in the Balkans


The dyeing of Easter eggs is a common practice and tradition in practically all of the countries in the Balkans on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. The egg was a symbol of life in antiquity, while the red colour used on Easter eggs symbolises Christ's blood on the Cross, according to the faithful and theologians.
According to the Romanian tradition, the Madonna had placed a basket full of eggs at the feet of the crucified Jesus, which turned red from the blood dripping from his wounds.
In predominantly Orthodox Christian Romania, the practice of egg dyeing (vapsuvat) takes place on the Thursday before Easter Sunday (Veli Chetvortok). In the evening of the same day, the women of the households would bring one of the eggs to church to be blessed by the priest. After the Thursday mass, the eggs are buried in vineyards to have God's protection from hailstorms and to ensure a good harvest. According to popular tradition, a blessed egg can remain unspoiled the entire year until next Easter.
Roughly 100 million eggs will be dyed in Bulgaria this Easter, corresponding to 30-35 eggs per household, the average monthly consumption of eggs in the rest of the year.
In Serbia, the first dyed egg is kept until next Easter, guaranteeing family security and health. All the rest hard boiled dyed eggs are used in a traditional game, known as egg dumping, where each player hits the other players' egg with their own. The winner is the holder of the last intact egg. The losers get to eat their eggs. This is a common practice in all Christian Orthodox countries on Easter Sunday.
In predominantly Roman Catholic Croatia, dyed eggs or "pisanice", particularly in the south of the country, are colored red and decorated with a white cross in the middle, while in the rest of the country eggs are being decorated with flower designs.
The practice of dyeing eggs red in Greece is a centuries-old tradition as well, with family members and friends attempting to "crack" the other's egg with their egg, beginning usually, at the traditional Easter Sunday dinner table.
The text comes courtesy of the prolific contributor 'crvena zvezda' of Serb Hellenic forum.
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