Easter is knocking at our door – so why not take a brief look at what people eat around the world for this major Christian holiday? If you are abroad, it might give you an idea of what to taste during Easter, and if you are not, you might get some tips for what to treat yourself with besides the usual dishes. Here we go.
One of the oldest traditional Easter foods is the roasted lamb, eaten on Easter Sunday in many countries. The tradition of eating lamb on Easter originates from before Jesus – Jews ate lamb on their first Passovers, and the habit has been passed on to many other Christian nations (especially those where sheep-breeding is a habit).
Eating lamb for Easter has further significance beyond the ancient Jewish habit of sacrificing the animal – Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God (metaphorically of course). There is a passage in the Bible (in John 1:29) that says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, referring to the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus for the people.
Lamb is traditionally eaten with unleavened bread (matzo) and bitter herbs, usually horseradish or romaine lettuce.
2. Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are an Easter favorite in many countries, like the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. They are spicy sweet buns usually made with the addition of raisins and currants to the cake, traditionally eaten in the Good Friday. These spicy little buns, usually eaten hot or toasted, have several superstitions tied to them: one of them says that a bun baked on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy for the rest of the year; another says that a bun shared with a friend will ensure friendship for the next year, especially if you say the magic words: “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” .
3. Colomba di Pasqua (Paloma di Pasqua)
Similar to the Panettone, a traditional sweet eaten by Italians (and increasingly by other nations as well) around Christmas, the Colomba is a sweet made with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, butter and candied fruit peels (no raisins). It is shaped as a dove (colomba means “dove” in Italian), decorated with pearl sugar, chocolate and almond flakes.
Similar Easter sweets are eaten in several other countries – Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania. The origins of these sweets can be traced back to the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. Romanians call their version cozonac, Bulgarians call it kulich, Ukrainians call it paska – they are all round shaped and decorated with various symbols.
Image by Claire Plumridge