Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dying Eggs on Holy Thursday & Welcome, Olivia Kate Autrey!

Today is Holy Thursday. Urania taught me to dye eggs on Holy Thursday. This is our first Holy Week without her—she’s my friend who died in October—so all of us at St. John Orthodox Church here in Memphis are missing her greatly.

I was thrilled when her daughter Julia emailed me from New York and asked if she could come over on Holy Thursday to dye eggs together. But first, a few links for those who want to read more about this tradition:

Here’s a blog post about why Orthodox Christians dye eggs red for Easter.

Link to dying eggs with onion skins is here. I might try that next year!
More information about traditions about Easter eggs is here.
One story about Mary Magdalen and the red eggs is here.
And another one here .

Okay, here’s Julia reading her mother’s instructions.

First we put the eggs in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes. This lets air bubbles out and prevents cracking. After 20 minutes, you pour this water out and start with fresh water for the dying process. I’ve done it both ways, and truly, fewer eggs crack this way. (Today we only cracked 3 out of 48 eggs!)

While the eggs are soaking, you mix Rit dye, “Scarlet” red, with a small amount of water and then pour it through a coffee filter into a container.

Your pour this dye mixture into the pot with the fresh water and bring it to a boil. Boil for about 12 minutes, then remove the eggs to paper towels to dry.

Once they are cool enough to handle, “polish” them with olive oil and put them in the refrigerator until Pascha night.

In some Greek Orthodox Churches, the priest gives out these eggs to the parishioners at the end of the service. At our church, most parishioners include some eggs in their baskets of food they bring for the Paschal feast.

The tradition is for two people to each hold an egg and “crack” them together… the one whose eggs does not crack wins. More about this game is here.

We’ve had a rainy Holy Thursday here in Memphis, but it’s turned out beautiful at the end of the day.

These clematis on our gate are in full bloom, as are these beautiful azaleas.

My peonies still haven’t bloomed, but I’m hoping for some blossoms by Sunday. Signs of spring are increasing as we move towards Pascha.

Watch for another post on Saturday afternoon… Julia and I will be making the traditional Greek lamb soup together. Yum!

Breaking News! Congratulations to my Goddaughter, Stacy Autrey, in Nashville… who gave birth to Olivia Kate this afternoon! 7 lbs 4 oz. We can’t wait to meet her!

Here's a picture Stacy and Jared just sent to my cell phone. Isn't she beautiful! Aunt Susan loves you, Olivia Kate!


she who must be obeyed said...

It only took me the past 5 years to figure out that Thursday is the day to do eggs! This year we got it right, I just spent the afternoon with my kids making pysanky (something I have wanted to do for years, but never managed to fit into holy week). I want to hear more about the olive oil on the red eggs - does this help keep the dye from transferring to your hands? Here the teens dye the eggs at the vigil, and they just don't refrigerate them so the dye does not run - but I like the oil idea.
Congratulations to Stacy and Jared, what a sweet baby!
Anne Marie

Susan Cushman said...

I love that the teens there dye them during the vigil. Does Father Stephen give them out? You know, I'm not sure if the olive oil keeps the dye from getting on your hands or not... I just thought it was to make the eggs prettier! But there's a trick to not getting too much oil on them. And you're right that refrigerating them seems to make them "sweat" when taken out on Holy Sat night... hmmmm.. I'm wondering if we should wait and oil them once they come to room temp on Holy Sat afternoon. Any thoughts?

Erin said...

The trick to not having the dye come off is don't refrigerate. I never have the guts to do that, though, so we usually just get messy. But many a YiaYia and Baba have told me not to refrigerate and everything will be fine.

she who must be obeyed said...

Fr. Stephen gives them out - and we do not refrigerate them - since they wait to dye them the night of the vigil - it only 24 hours that they are out, and they are hardboiled :) It makes me nervous, and my parents refuse to eat them, but my kids eat them every year, and no problems so far. Since they are boiled and perfect little air tight packages, I suppose there is little danger. If they are refrigerated I won't let my kids touch them - since they are always in their nicest clothes!!!!! Hope you both have a blessed Pascha!

Erin said...

Hey - last year my 5-year-old bit right into the Rit-dyed, unrefrigerated, red egg, and ate through it, shell and all. (Yes, I think he was really hungry!) He survived just fine, so I guess there's really no worries. This year we didn't refrigerate and they weren't messy at all.

Erin said...

Hey! I'm back this year with more comments for this post. I'm doing something new this year. I'm dying the eggs with onion skins. I've always wanted to do it this way, but never had the energy. I did a trial run last week and they turned out absolutely beautiful. And really, it's no harder than using the traditional red Greek dyes I've bought in the past. Plus - the big news is . . . NO running! I refrigerated, removed, cooled, etc. There was bit of condensation but no running at all! Yay! I'm an onion skin convert! Not to mention it's all natural and so no worries about any health issues. Happy Holy Thursday and Kalo Pascha!