April 3, 2010

The Red Eggs of Pascha

Why do we dye our eggs red for Pascha?

Orthodox Christians dye our eggs red for the following reasons:

First of all, the red symbolizes the blood of Christ, which the Lord shed for our salvation.

Also, according to tradition, some time after the Resurrection of Christ, Saint Mary Magdalene went to Emperor Tiberius Caesar and courageously announced to him that Christ had risen from the dead and explained how this all took place. After she finished Tiberius noticed a man next to him holding a basket of eggs. Tiberius then challenged Mary that if what she said was indeed true, then the white eggs in the basket should be turned into red eggs. Suddenly the eggs turned red leaving Caesar perplexed. This is why our tradition is to dye our eggs red for Pascha.

This incident is depicted in the iconography of the Russian Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane of Jerusalem. The Monastery was built in 1885 by Tsar Alexander III and his siblings in honor of their mother, Tsarina Maria. Inside the church of the Monastery above the Holy Altar is a large painting which depicts Saint Mary Magdalene in front of Tiberius Caesar handing him a red egg.