I’m Greek on my father’s side. My father is not a religious man, but being Greek, he loves food and celebrations. In my family, Greek Easter was a way to celebrate our heritage.
My father would make a huge leg of lamb, spanikopita, and loukoumades–Greek doughnuts dripping with honey, for our celebration. I have wonderful memories of the lamb roasting, filling our home with the scent of lemon and oregano.
Once, we even dyed traditional red eggs and played the game where you go around and try to crack each others’ eggs.
This a picture of my friend Effie and her daughter at their Easter celebration last year. Effie, who is Greek Orthodox, told me about the religious meaning of the red eggs…
Traditionally, Orthodox Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ–the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead. We dye the red eggs and crack them in this symbolic game of the tomb opening. We go nose to nose or butt to butt on the egg and gently hit them. You say “Christos Anesti” which means Christ has risen- and the other responds “Alithos Anesti”- he truly has risen! After going around the table- whoever has an unbroken egg has good luck.
Today, I will celebrate my Greek heritage. My family is having dinner at Montclair’s Greek Taverna. They are serving a traditonal Easter feast and will even have Greek Sweet bread and red eggs. I can smell the lamb roasting now.