While the weather has been more frightful than spring-like, it’s time to celebrate Easter, a holiday filled with deep food roots and customs. Much of what we eat at Easter comes from a pagan festival to commemorate the Goddess of Spring and fertility, “Eastre”. For Christians, it is the culmination of Holy Week and Christ’s resurrection.
One thing is as certain as snow in March in Buffalo: food is a huge part any holiday. Let’s take a peek at the origins of some of the most common eats connected to the holiday.
Eggs. There are also many Christian belief's about eggs as symbols of the resurrection of Christ. Many Christians associate the egg with new life or rebirth. Eggs are dyed red to honor the blood of Christ in Greek and Slavic cultures. In Germany, eggs are painted green and eaten on Maundy Thursday. Eggs are also used to thicken broth-based soups such as Brodetto Pasquale in Italy. Of course, eggs are used in many types of bread.
Rabbit and lamb, both symbols of new life, are renowned for their fertility. The first edible Easter rabbits, made from pastry and sugar, appeared in Germany during the early 1800s. Now it’s customary to enjoy chocolate rabbits and eggs at Easter.
Roast lamb dinners date back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm
Hot cross buns were popularized centuries ago when small cakes were offered at Eastre, symbolizing magic powers for buns baked on Good Friday. After converting to Christianity, the church substituted sweetbreads blessed by the church.
What are your Easter and Passover traditions when it comes to the holiday meal? We always did the traditional ham, lamb and Easter Soup, which my mother, Hilda, made from scratch using chicken stock, onion, garlic, endive, rice, and mini meatballs. It is hearty and delicious and instantly conjures up those special holiday dinner memories.
No holiday meal would be complete without pasta in our house. Other fixings are served up: lamb, ham, Easter eggs, and bread with— what else?—a butter lamb and lots of wonderful vegetable dishes and desserts, including plenty of chocolate. Make mine dark, please.
Let’s raise a toast to a happy holiday and a bountiful table of traditional foods that nurture the soul!