On Holy Thursday, four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.
Holy Thursday is when many of the Greek Easter preparations begin. Most significantly, Holy Thursday is the traditional day when tsoureki is baked, and eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ.
From ancient times, the red eggs have been a symbol of the renewal of life, carrying the message of the victory over death. Many Greeks carry on the ancient tradition of placing the first red egg at the home’s iconostasis (the place where icons are displayed) to ward off evil.
Many Greeks will already have their own ways of cooking their red eggs, yet for those of you still looking for a recipe, here is one provided below:
While Tsoureki is prepared on Easter Thursday, it is not eaten until Easter Sunday. The most common shape for the sweet bread is the braid, yet other shapes can be formed.
According to tradition, tsoureki is baked to symbolise the Resurrection of Christ and his rebirth. The rising of the bread is set to symbolise the Christs rising, with the red eggs, usually placed on top of the braid, symbolising the blood of Jesus.
Icons Of The Feast
The Icon of the Mystical Supper – Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Christ is the central figure at the table. Saint John the Beloved is seated at Christ’s right; as the youngest of the disciples he is depicted as beardless. Judas Iscariot the Betrayer is the third figure from Christ’s left; he is depicted dipping into the dish. Saint John the Beloved receives in his left hand a piece of the Body of Christ; another morsel is on the table before Christ. The chalice containing the Precious Blood of Christ is in His Left hand.
The Church also has an icon of the Crucifixion of Christ. He is shown nailed to the Cross. His right side is pierced and from the wound flows blood and water. At the foot of the Cross is a skull. (Golgotha, the Mount of the Crucifixion, means “the place of the skull.”). On the top bar of the Cross is the inscription “I.N.B.I.”, the initials for the Greek words meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
At Home Activities
- Dye Red Eggs
- Listen to the Twelve Gospel Readings
- See the procession with the Cross on the Church’s Live Stream
- Listen for “Today He is suspended on a Tree who suspended the earth over the waters” when it is chanted.
Sourced by: Greek Orthodox Church of Pensacola, Florida