I  remember the first time I visited and toured a Greek Orthodox church. It was during the annual Greek Festival in my city and I was amazed at how little I knew of the Eastern Orthodox faith. Saints in those churches are a really big deal and the art in the building and the paintings are simply stunning. But, as usual, once the spiritual portion of the day was complete, I could be seen pushing my way through circles of dancing greeks yelling “opa!” as I made a beeline for homemade baklavah.
Iconography is a strong part of that denomination of Christian faith. But I must admit, I never did catch the very prominent portratit of Mary Magdalene holding the red egg. It wasn’t until recently that I was even aware of such a work. Neither did I notice that one particular scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the guests are holding up and “klinking” their red eggs! Did you?
Apparently, the red egg (during Roman times) symbolized life arising from a sealed chamber and was a symbol that would have been very meaningful and understandable to Roman citizens.
There are multiple versions of the legend:
One says that Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned brilliant red when she saw the risen Christ.
A different tale boasts that after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to Italy to share the Gospel and was granted a meeting with Tiberias Caesar. She greeted the Emperor of Rome with “Christ has risen,” whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.
Whatever the legend or the case, I have to admit, I had never heard of the Red Egg until a cousin of mine sent me a link about it during Holy Week. But now, both you and I, and some of you orthodox or high church types, are all on the same page. Whew!
And that, my friend, is the legend of the Red Egg. You’ll never watch that movie that takes place in Chicago about the family that owns Dancing Zorba’s the same again.
Just my thoughts.
For further research, check out wikipedia.