Lamb, tsoureki and red eggs have become synonymous with Greek Easter.
But it may seem strange to associate a red egg with Easter, and in addition to breaking them too. So why do the Greeks do this?
Despite this deep religious significance, egg cracking has become a fun tradition for worshipers of all ages in Greece and beyond, which many look forward to every Easter.
Dating back to the early Christians of Mesopotamia, the custom of painting eggs red – in memory of the blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion – spread to Eastern Europe and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, then to Western Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches. .
However, the tradition has evolved across Europe, with people from many different cultures – especially in Eastern Europe – painting elaborate, multi-coloured Easter eggs.
The Greek tradition of red Easter eggs has deep religious significance
In Greece, the red death of eggs, symbolizing the blood of Christ, has continued throughout the millennia as an Easter tradition.
The egg itself is symbolic, as its hard shell represents the sealed tomb of Jesus – the cracking of which symbolizes his resurrection from the dead and his coming out of the tomb.
Due to its religious significance, the egg serves as an emblem of the resurrection, and its decorated variations of Easter are recognized worldwide as a symbol of the most special day in the Christian calendar – Easter, the event that sealed the promise of eternal life.
According to some followers of Eastern Christianity, we owe the Easter tradition of painting eggs red to Mary Magdalene.
This tradition of some believers states that Mary Magdalene brought boiled eggs to share with the other women at Jesus’ tomb, and that the eggs in her basket miraculously turned bright red when she saw the risen Christ.
How to Play Tsougrisma with Easter Eggs
In Greece, the cracking of eggs, or tsougrisma (τσούγκρισμα in Greek), begins on the evening of the Service of the Resurrection, the day before Easter, and continues the next day during the Greek Easter feast.
Eggs painted red are tapped together and cracked together between two people as they exchange the traditional Easter greeting “Christos anesti!” (“Christ is risen”) – “Alithos anesti! (“He really has”).
Tsougrisma is really easy to play for everyone and has very simple rules.
Each player holds a red egg and one taps the end of their egg against the end of the other player’s egg. The goal is to crack the opponent’s egg — without breaking yours, of course.
The rule is that you start with the same ends, point to point. When one end is cracked, the winner uses the same end of their egg to try to crack the other undamaged end of the opponent’s egg.
Everything then comes down to the egg, which remains intact. The player who successfully cracks the other players’ eggs is declared the winner and is said to be lucky during the year.
Traditionally, when tapping on the egg, the first player would say to his opponent “Christos anesti” (“Christ is risen!”), to which the second responds “Alithos anesti!” (“He really has”) as they return the tapping to their side.
How to win the egg cracker game
There are some helpful tips for winning at the annual Easter egg cracking.
While detailed preparation guides can be found online on how to make eggs more durable for cracking competitions, when it comes to cracking Easter eggs, you usually don’t have as much freedom to choose. choice.
Unless you have prepared the eggs yourself and sabotaged the others, you must choose from what is already boiled, dyed and on the table.
Therefore, your best chance of winning the game, or at least the round, is to use simple physics – structural mechanics, to be precise.
Since geometric stiffness tells us that the more curved the egg, the better it will perform, go for the sharpest egg you can see in the basket or on the tray.
Hold your egg in a socket as close to the end of the tapping as possible, so that it can only be hit at the most curved spot on top while the sides are supported.
A good idea is to try to run the game by hitting first. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit the opponent’s egg, but aim for a flatter surface near the end you’re hitting.
Worldwide popularity of egg breaking
Variations of egg cracking are practiced in a few countries – but the game is not always as fiery as in the Greek Easter custom.
In Italy they have the same game, called “scuccetta”, but it’s made with plain eggs, not red ones.
In parts of Austria, Bavaria and German-speaking Switzerland, the cracking of colored Easter eggs is popularly known as “Ostereiertitschen” or “Eierpecken”.
When practice has made you perfect at cracking eggs, maybe you can challenge yourself at the annual meeting. World Egg Breaking Championship in Peterlee, Durham, UK – using plain eggs again, making the experience quite dull compared to the more festive red egg cracking in Greece.
A word of warning, though – beware of winning a “Pocking Eggs” game in South Louisiana; the winner must eat the losers’ eggs each round. Sly!
READ MORE: Why do Greeks spit roast lamb on Easter Sunday?