Easter in Greece is wonderful. Spring is already here, the weather is great and there are many things to do in Athens as well as in the outskirts visiting smaller cities and villages. There are many different customs and traditions regarding that season all around Greece but two things (the lamb and the red eggs) are communal to all areas.
One of the most common Christian symbols, especially associated with Easter, is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning “Lamb of God” in Latin.
The origin of the symbol is related directly to the Jewish Passover. In ancient times the Jews sacrificed a lamb in the course of the festival. The early Christians, most of whom were Hebrews, associated the sacrifice of the lamb with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They connected the joyous Passover festival, which commemorates the liberation of the Hebrews from their years of bondage in Egypt, with the liberation from death represented by the Resurrection.
The popularity of lamb as an Easter food is undoubtedly related to its importance as a symbol. During the Middle Ages roast lamb became the traditional main course of the Pope’s Easter dinner and it is still customarily served on Easter Sunday in many European countries.
The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations. It was commonly believed that the universe developed from a great egg and that the halves of its shell corresponded to Heaven and earth. Many pre-Christian and Indo-European peoples, like Egyptians or Persians made a practice of coloring eggs in the spring as a fertility ritual.
Greeks mainly color eggs red (scarlet) to signify the blood of Christ. They use hard-boiled eggs (painted red on Holy Thursday) which are baked into twisted sweet-bread loaves or distributed on Easter Sunday; people rap their eggs against their friends’ eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky.