Red-Dyed Easter Eggs
The following traditional
recipe is courtesy of Ellen Vidalakis Furgis and D. Eugene Valentine,
and is excerpted from their book Greek Cooking at Its American Best.
Hard-boiled eggs, dyed deep red to symbolize the redeeming blood of Christ, are a Greek (or Eastern Orthodox) tradition at Easter. The egg is further symbolic in that it is an emblem of the Resurrection: it contains life motionless; in like manner, after being motionless in the grave, the resurrected come forth with new life. On Easter and the following week, the general greeting "Christos Anesti!" (Christ is Risen!) and the reply "Alethos Anesti!" (Truly He is Risen!) are heard among the faithful.
An interesting piece of Greek folklore provides another explanation for the red color. According to the story, one of the Apostles told a woman that Christ had risen. Not believing the Apostle, she glanced down at her apronful of eggs and said, "If these eggs turn red I will believe He is risen." Apparently she soon believed.
A favorite game among family and friends is for everyone to hold one of the red eggs tightly in his or her hand wth the point showing. Each tries to crack the other's egg. The winer is the lucky one who successfully escapes having his or her egg cracked.
The eggs are usually hard-boiled and dyed on Holy Thursday or Holy Saturday (one or two days before Easter). To color the eggs, you can use only the red tablet from a Paas Easter egg coloring kit, making it up according to the directions, or you can buy a package of special European red dye available in some Greek and Italian specialty stores at Easter time. Some people even make their using Rit all-purpose concentrated fabric dye. Here's how they do it: Add 1/2 package scarlet (No. 5) Rit fabric dye and 2 tablespoons vinegar to 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then add the hard-boiled eggs (or unboiled eggs if they are to be used in loaves of bread). Allow them to remain in the dye until a brilliant color is achieved. Remove them from the dye with a slotted spoon and place them on paper toweling to dry. When dry, the eggs can be polished with an oiled cloth. (When Rit fabric dye is used to color eggs that are to be used in breads, the color tends to stain the dough.)
Note: When red eggs are used in loaves of bread the eggs are not boiled before they are dyed. The eggs serve only as decoration in the bread; they shouldn't be eaten.