Dyed Greek Easter eggs and how to win at the art of ‘tsougrisma’

In the Greek Orthodox tradition the rebirth of Christ at Easter overshadows his birth at Christmas.

Red eggs are a traditional part of the Greek Easter Sunday tradition, and are lovingly dyed either with onion skins or coloured dye. Eggs symbolise spring and rebirth, whereas the colour red has to do with the colour of Jesus’ spilt blood when crucified, but is also the colour of happiness. The coloured eggs are baked into a tsoureki (braided Easter bread) or used as table decorations.

In the Orthodox tradition, eggs are dyed on Holy Thursday which was the day of the Last Supper.

They are also central to a fun game – known as tsougrisma (meaning ‘clinking together). The cracking tradition symbolises Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The person doing the tapping says, ‘Christos Anesti!” (Christ has risen) whereas the one whose egg is being tapped replies ‘Alithos Anesti!” (Indeed he has risen).

Egg tapping is not a unique tradition to Greece and is also practised in India, Croatia, Romania and in the Jewish culture. There are strict rules, and there’s even an annual championship known as the World Egg Jarping Association where competitors take the sport seriously with special calcium-rich diets for their hens and special tricks when boiling eggs to ensure that the air pockets in the egg don’t shift and weaken the strength of the shell. According to the science of jarping, the eggs should be boiled from the pointy side down.

When tapping eggs there are a few tricks to keep in mind.

READ MORE: How to dye red eggs naturally

Choose the right eggs

The view that brown shells are stronger than white ones and vice versa is a myth. What plays a role is not the colour of the egg but whether the hens were farm-reared or commercial. Free range eggs typically have harder shells than the other chickens because of their diet.

Boil them properly

The eggs should be left at room temperature before being boiled to dye. They shouldn’t be crammed so as not to knock with each other and  be boiled gently. Let them boil for 20 minutes.

Dye them

You can dye them in vinegar and onion peels, but leave them overnight if you want a good finish. Commercial dye is also a good option and comes in different colours. Once the eggs are dyed you can polish them with oil to give them an additional shine.

The extra edge

If you are hell-bent on winning you can harden your shell and seal your weapon by either using clear nail varnish, decoupage glue or liquid sodium silicate. But warning, eggs should not be consumed after you have used these tricks.

READ MORE: Greek culinary Easter traditions explained

Choose the right egg

When choosing your egg for tsougrisma know that larger is not necessarily better. Instead choose a pointy egg. Try tapping slightly to test the shell. A good shell is the one that makes a light high-pitched tap instead of a duller one.


Shell tappers use the same ends with pointy to pointy and wide to wide sides. The trick is to use a firm hand and play with a determined tap.