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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-04-01

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] The tradition of Easter eggs in the Orthodox Church

  • [01] The tradition of Easter eggs in the Orthodox Church

    For Orthodox Christians, the Easter egg is much more than a celebration of the end of fasting -- is a declaration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ for the faithful. Traditionally, Easter eggs are dyed throughtout the Orthodox Christian world on Easter Thursday and are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, while the hard shell of the egg symbolises the sealed tomb, whose cracking of which symbolises the resurrection.

    Easter eggs are specially decorated to celebrate the Easter holiday along with the arrival of spring. The oldest tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs.

    Many eastern Europeans, including Bulgarians (pisano), Croats (pisanica), Czechs (kraslice), Poles (pisanka), Serbs (pisanica), Slovaks (kraslica), Slovenes (pisanica or pirh), and Ukrainians (pysanka) decorate eggs for Easter. Many of the names derive from the Slavic root "pisa" which is related to "writing". In the eastern European tradition, the egg (similar to icons) is written, not drawn or painted.

    Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland and other east European countries' folk traditions. A batik (wax resist) process is used to create intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs, the best-known of which is the Ukrainian pysanka.

    Pisanica is a decorated Croatian Easter egg that comes from an old Slavic custom dating back to pagan times.

    During Easter, eggs would be painted with bright colors, and would be given as gifts, especially to young children or a significant other. Before paint became common, villagers used whatever resources they had available around them to make the dyes and paints themselves. The most common color for eggs was red, due to the abundance of red beets and other vegetables.

    In the MeÄmurje area, soot would often be mixed with oak to make a dark brown color. Green plants would be used for green dye. The word pisanica is derived from the Croatian word that means "writing". The most common phrase put on pisanicas is Happy Easter, or "Sretan Uskrs".

    Other common decorations are doves, crosses, flowers, traditional designs, and other slogans wishing health and happiness.

    Polish pisanka (plural pisanki) is a common name for an egg (usually that of a chicken, although goose or duck eggs are also used) ornamented using various techniques. Believed to have originated as a pagan tradition, pisanki were absorbed by Christianity to become the traditional Easter egg. Pisanki now symbolise the revival of nature and the hope that Christians gain from faith in the resurrection of Christ.

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