Tomorrow night I’ll introduce my son to the Greek Orthodox tradition of dying eggs red (using onion skins) as part of the Easter celebration. Old-school Greek homes don’t usually dye eggs pastel colors the way mainstream American families do. My mother did both when I was a kid because she wanted my sister and me to have the full Easter egg experience (even though we didn’t do an Easter egg hunt). That meant we had our teacups filled with Paas dye on the table while she had her vat of blood red dye simmering on the stove.
Greeks dye their eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ. I learned this early on as a kid. However, there is another more apocryphal story that is told to Greek children about why eggs are dyed red, and it goes like this: On Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene was returning to Jerusalem after discovering the empty tomb and then the risen Christ. She was carrying a basket of eggs (I’m not sure why) when she encountered some of the disciples on the way to the tomb themselves. When she informed them that the tomb was empty and their beloved Jesus, alive and well, they reacted in disbelief. Not one to back down, she confidently declared that if the words she had spoken to them were true and Christ truly risen, the eggs in her basket would turn red. Naturally, they did.
When I saw the above picture of a stretch of Route I-495 in Littleton taken this morning after a truck spilled red dye all over the road, I immediately thought of the story my mother used to tell me as a child. While I’m not one to argue the cosmic primacy of Christianity over other religions, I couldn’t help but feel that a red road is appropriate during Holy Week when so many are caught up (myself included) in commemorating the Easter story. It struck me not as a symbol of any objective spiritual reality or historical event, but rather as evocative of the very potent religious myths that occupy such a central place in Western thought.
Verily I say unto you, if Christ is risen, this road shall turn red.
Καλή Ανάσταση, φίλοι μου.