Guess what, Easter is just around the corner. It is that special time of the year when boys and girls get to enjoy the candy-filled eggs from the Easter Bunny. However, there are several traditions that hold true with different religions when it comes to Easter, specifically, the Greek Orthodox Church when it comes to red Easter eggs.
According to Wikipedia, in certain Eastern Orthodox customs, on Easter Sunday, either at, during, or after the Divine Liturgy, “Easter Eggs” are exchanged or handed out. Particularly, in the Greek Orthodox Church, it is a hen’s egg that has been hard boiled and colored a specific shade of red. What is the theological significance of the egg in this context? Is it a part of the Divine Liturgy of Easter Sunday? If so, when are they given and how?
The dispersal of dyed eggs at the end of Paschal services is a custom that is seen in some places. As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, the tradition is more popular among the faithful of Greece than among the Slavic lands. And I have heard of this ritual among some non-Orthodox, as well.
There is nothing in the service books of the Orthodox Church calling for the distribution of colored eggs at the end of services. There is a prayer for the blessing of eggs and cheese, as well, as a prayer for the blessing of meat, on Holy Pascha. Many Orthodox, especially the Slavs, bring food to church on Holy Saturday or on Pascha, and this food is then blessed with prayers.
While there are a sound number of reasons for the blessing of eggs—there is even a legend that St. Mary Magdalene traveled to Rome and presented the Emperor with a red egg while exclaiming, “Christ is risen”—no doubt the association of eggs with Pascha is derived from the fact that during the Great Fast the faithful refrain from eating eggs, meat, fish, wine, dairy products, and oil. Hence, these foods are eaten on Pascha to “break the Fast.”
As far as theological significance, there is, quite frankly, little. Explanations that eggs symbolize new life, or that the cracking of eggs signifies the destruction of Hades by the victorious Christ, are pious reasons, but are not theological actions or statements. Either way, the Greek Orthodox Church enjoys these traditions, while other branches of Christianity appreciate their rituals.