Yesterday was Russian Orthodox Easter. This means 5 things:
1. Greetings. When someone says to you, "Christos Voskres!" ("Christ has risen!"), you have about 3 seconds to reply with, "Voistynu Voskres!" ("Indeed he has risen!") That's a pretty hard and fast rule. I tend to play the Replier, not the Instigator role, both on the phone and in person.
2. The three-kiss hello and goodbye. A kiss hello is pretty standard for family and family friends, especially if you don't see them every day. High holidays require the three-kiss hello (and goodbye), alternating cheeks. Very awkward for me and my cousin. Also very awkward if one party forgets and only does two and the other party goes in for the third.
3. Easter eggs. I grew up without ever experiencing the joy of the Easter bunny or Easter baskets. However, there were always Easter eggs. Growing up, I used to help my mom dye the eggs on Saturday night. We would buy the Paas egg dye at the grocery store and I would get excited about giving the eggs sticker and white crayon makeovers. The last few years, my mom has gone Russian old-school and has been using onion peels to dye the eggs an interesting red/brown color. I am glad she's gone back to her roots and doesn't sell out like I would have, had it been my responsibility to dye the eggs again.
4. Easter egg game. I am not sure I know the universal rules of this game, so I cannot speak for other Russian or Greek families. In my family, everyone picks an egg and the tournament begins. Playing against one opponent at a time, you hold up your egg, your opponent holds up his/her egg, and you basically hit your eggs against each other. If your egg cracks, you are a loser. However, you get to eat your egg. If your egg is whole, you play the winner of the match-up sitting next to you. The game keeps going until there is one winner. Sometimes, if the game is played at lunch, the winner might even keep the winning egg until the dinner-time game. Honestly, the whole thing lasts like 10 minutes. My mom usually wins, she's sneaky. This year, Papa T was the champion. I am not sure if this means that Jesus likes him best or that he had frozen his egg ahead of time.
5. Kulich. This is traditional Easter bread that we eat for dessert. [If you take it to midnight Mass, the priest will bless it. He will also bless your eggs.] Now I don't really like kulich to begin with, which makes my mom's cruel game extra cruel. She makes her own and also goes to the Russian grocery store and buys a kulich made by one of the ladies who works at the store. We are then asked to compare and contrast and declare hers to be more delicious.