Orthodox Easter Coloured Egg Tradition

Saturday, 2 May 2015

I was really excited to see a comment pop up on my Orthodox Easter blog post asking about the tradition of dyed eggs. I was trying to find a way of structuring my answer but one of my fave blogs already had the perfect post that explains it all wonderfully.

The Modern Domakinka (domakinka means housewife in Macedonian.) is a fantastic new blog all about traditional Macedonian recipes and I'll insert her post below.

"The traditional red, hard-boiled egg is the most prominent symbol of Orthodox Easter. Orthodox Christians will spend Thursday (Veliki Cetvrtok) dying dozens of eggs and decorating them with different colours and designs. However, it must be noted that the first three eggs should be dyed before dawn on Thursday, before Good Friday. It is said that these three eggs will not go rotten for years to come if they are dyed before the sun rises.

The first egg is dedicated to God; the second egg is dedicated to the head of the house or the 'Domakin'; and the third egg is for good luck. The first egg is said to be magical, and is therefore placed next to a religious icon in the house. It is even believed that this egg can cure illnesses. It is for this reason that the housewife or the 'Domakinka' should not attempt to dye these three eggs on an empty stomach. She must eat at least a mouthful of bread, as any eggs dyed on an empty stomach do not bring any luck. It is even believed that they can bring bad luck and illness. The egg placed on the icon last year should be buried in the ground before placing the new egg on the icon.

With the first rays of sunlight, the housewife or the 'Domakinka' will wake each member of the household by rubbing the first boiled egg on each of their faces saying "Crveno, belo, debelo," or "Red, white, plump!"

This beautiful tradition of egg dying represents life and birth; and the red dye symbolises the blood of Christ. The tradition stems from the story of Marija Magdalena who travelled to Rome to inform King Tiberij of the miracle of the resurrection of Christ. She offered a dyed red egg to the King and said "Hristos Voskrese!" or "Christ has risen!" From then on, Orthodox Christians have been dying red eggs to symbolise the resurrection of Christ."

I honestly couldn't have put it better myself. The whole process is a tradition and when I was a kid it was a fun one. You would never see the stuff that happened really early in the morning but when you got up baba (grandma) and/or mum would be dying the eggs and you'd stand at the stove with her and it was some good bonding time. You buy the dye at most delis (you can tell which ones will have them by how woggy they look) and I remember there being a lot of egg stickers that you could put on them too. Nowadays theres heaps of fancy things you can do to the boiled eggs. People paint them, add stickers, add textured coatings and all this stuff but they're especially beautiful when they're kept simple. 
Usually over Easter the Eggs are given to basically everyone you interact with. For example, one of my grandmas makes eggs for her household, then gives my family a dozen for us to share, then some for my other grandma, some for my aunties family and any of her friends that are Orthodox, and then everyone that receives the eggs gives her some of their batch. So its basically a lot of egg swapping haha

If you want to know more about being a Modern Macedonian housewife and learn about some great traditional recipes do check out The Modern Domakinka's blog  &  The Modern Domakinka's Facebook page because I'm honestly obsessed with it.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! What a beautiful tradition, I just adore the symbolism, particularly the story of the journey to Rome. Consider me informed :) Also, I love that the dyeing must not be done on an empty stomach; see, there is ALWAYS a good reason to eat! :D

  2. This was really interesting! I only knew about the red dyed eggs, I didn't realise there was other colors that you could use when doing them as part of the Orthodox traditions.