Macedonian Orthodox Easter Traditions
What is the proper Easter greeting in Macedonian?
The proper way to greet someone in Macedonian on Easter is by saying Христос Воскресе! (Hristos Voskrese!), which translates to “Christ is Risen!” The other person then responds back with Навистина Воскресе! (Navistina Voskrese!) or Вистина Воскресе! (Vistina Voskrese!), which translate to “Indeed, He is Risen!”
What is the symbolism behind the red Easter egg and why do we give and receive eggs for Easter?
The single most striking symbol of Easter for Macedonians is the hard-boiled bright red egg. The red color symbolizes the blood of Christ and the hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ.
Eggs are traditionally dyed a bright red color the early hours of Holy Thursday with the first egg dyed red before sunrise. The belief is that if the egg doesn’t see the sun, it will last all year and not spoil. That first red egg is then placed near an icon in the home and kept all year for good health.
It is believed that after Jesus’s Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, Mary Magdalene went to Rome and met with the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. She had a plain egg in her hand and greeted him with the words “Christ is Risen.” She then continued to tell him about Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension. The Emperor, doubting Mary Magdalene, responded that Jesus rising from the dead was as likely as the egg she was holding turning red. Before the Emperor could finish speaking, the egg in Mary Magdalene’s hand turned a bright red color.
Another tradition says that on Easter morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus with a basket of plain boiled eggs. Upon her arrival, she found the stone of the tomb rolled away and when she looked down all the eggs in her basket had turned a bright red.
There are many variations to these stories, but the meaning behind them remains the same.
What is the meaning behind the Easter egg cracking game and how do you play?
On Easter Sunday after it is declared that “Christ is Risen,” Macedonians, like many other cultures, crack Easter eggs. The egg cracking game is symbolic of new life and representative of the tomb cracking open when Jesus Christ was Resurrected.
The ultimate goal of the game is to crack your opponent’s egg and have both ends of your egg left uncracked and intact. Both players select an egg they think has the hardest shell. One player holds his/her egg and covers the sides of the egg, so that only one end of the egg is showing. The other player then takes his/her egg and, from above, taps the egg with the end of his/her egg. The player whose egg cracks then flips his/her egg to the non-cracked end and the winner attempts to crack the non-cracked end of the opponent’s egg. If both ends of the player’s egg are left intact, he/she is declared the winner of the game and, it is said, will have good health for the rest of the year. The winner then moves on to play against other players with the winning egg and the cracked eggs are peeled and eaten by the players – which is a very welcome treat for those who fasted for Easter. The egg cracking game is a lot of fun for all ages, especially because of the banter and joking that goes on between the players. Most importantly, it’s an interactive way for us to remember the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with our friends and family.
What is your favorite Macedonian Orthodox Easter tradition? Please share with us in the comments below!! Happy Easter to all of you! Христос Воскресе! Навистина Воскресе!