Foods that Symbolizes Easter from around the world

Originally a celebration of spring and fertility, Easter originated from a Northern hemisphere pagan celebration known as Eastre. For Christians around the world Easter has primarily become known as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, for many people Easter takes its origins from pagan customs, focusing on specific foods and enjoying the holiday that accompany this period.

Traditional Easter food varies from country to country, with Australia celebrating a diversity of different foods including:

Fish

Good Friday is often described as the day of “greatest grief” for Christians. Many traditions and superstitions are associated with this day but perhaps the most widespread custom is the eating of fish, said to be an alternative for meat out of respect to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The Legend Of John Dory

The John Dory fish (which is also known as St Peter’s fish in Europe) is a mild and delicate white flesh fish best when grilled whole or roasted in the oven. The delicacy of the Dory also lends itself to poaching and steaming and serving with subtle South-East Asian flavours. It is a popular choice for Good Friday feasts.

The Dory’s alternate name ‘St Peters Fish’ refers to the “thumbprint” on the fish’s side. This mark is said to have resulted from Christ instructing St Peter to go fishing, correctly predicting he would catch a fish containing a silver coin in its mouth, for him to give to the tax collector. The skin of the John Dory marked by two dark “thumbprints” is said to be where Peter held the fish to retrieve the coin.

Eggs

Of all the symbols associated with Easter, the egg (symbol of fertility and new life) is the most identifiable.

Traditionally, Easter eggs were painted with bright colours to represent spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were coloured and etched with various designs, lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines, exchanged the eggs.

Different cultures have developed their own ways of using eggs in their traditional Easter foods. In Greece, crimson eggs (to honour the blood of Christ) are exchanged; Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in special patterns of gold and silver; In Italy eggs are found in soups such as Brodetto Pasquale (a broth-based Easter soup thickened with eggs) and in many different breads, such as in Calabria where a whole egg is inserted into the holes in the braid.

Easter Bunny

The easter bunny also has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The hare and the rabbit were well known for their fertility and served as symbols of the new life during spring. The first edible easter bunnies (made of pastry and sugar) were made in Germany during the early 1800s. The Germans were also responsible for bringing the symbol of the easter rabbit to America.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns have a mixed history. Some attribute them right back to the pagan spring festival and say only later where monks, wanting to give a Christian meaning to the tradition, gave them the cross. Other accounts are entirely Christian in their origin, explaining the cross as a reminder of the cross Jesus was killed on.

Hot cross buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time on Good Friday with buns baked on Good Friday supposedly having magical powers. Other superstitions include:

• Hardened old hot cross buns protect the house from fire.

• You could keep a hot cross bun that had been made on Good Friday for at least a year without it going mouldy.

• Sailors took hot cross buns to sea with them to prevent shipwreck.

• A bun baked on Good Friday and left to get hard could be grated up and put in warm milk to stop an upset tummy.

However, whatever their origin, the delicious combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours continues to be a traditional Easter favourite.

Dove

The dove (symbol of peace and resurrection) plays a popular part in Italian Easter celebrations. In northern Italy, specialty bread baked in the shape of a dove and studded with orange peel, raisins and almonds is eaten on Easter Sunday.

Lamb

The Lamb, signifier of birth and new life, is a major component of many Italian and Greek Easter feasts. Historically, whole baby lamb, was roasted or grilled over open air spits and while this tradition still persists, many today opt for the more convenient option of lamb roast for Sunday lunches and dinners.

Pancakes

Like many other European holidays, Pancake Day was originally a pagan holiday.  The eating of pancakes was an important part of Shrovetide week.  The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins and celebrated the beginning of Spring. Later adopted by the Christian’s it is now know as “Shrove Tuesday”, the last day of celebration and feasting before the period of fasting required during the Lenten season.  Lent is a period of time leading up to Easter where Christians, who traditionally follow the English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs before Ash Wednesday and the fasting period began.

Capirotada Bread Pudding

Is a kind of spiced Mexican bread pudding filled with raisins, cinnamon, cloves and cheese that is popular during the Easter period. It’s said that each ingredients carries a reminder of the suffering of Christ – the cloves being the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks the wooden cross and the bread the Body of Christ himself.

Kulich cake

Families in many Orthodox Christian countries, including Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia, will bake a Kulich cake at Easter. The cakes are baked in tall tins, and decorated with white icing and colourful sprinkles or flowers. A priest often blesses the cake after Easter service.

Chervil Soup

Maundy Thursday is known as  “Green Thursday” in Germany, when Germans traditionally eat green-coloured foods.

Paçoca de Amendoim
A delicious treat made from peanuts, sugar and cassava flour.  This Brazilian tradition is often served in honour of the Easter festival.

Pashka
Is a pyramid-shaped dessert made from cheese is traditionally served at Easter in Russia. The dish is often decorated with religious symbols, such as the letters XB, from “Christos Voskres”, which means “Christ is Risen”.

Colomba di Pasqua
Similar in taste to the Italian Christmas bread panettone, Colomba di Pasqua is a candied peel-stuffed cake that is often shaped like a dove.

Tsoureki
Is a brioche-like bread, flavoured with an essence drawn from the seed of wild cherries, is often decorated with hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed red, to symbolise the blood of Christ.

Pinca
Rather like a large hot cross bun, pinca is a sweet bread marked with the sign of the cross that is commonly eaten to celebrate the end of Lent in Slovenia and Croatia. It’s also enjoyed in some areas of Italy

Mona de Pascua
A popular Easter cake traditionally cooked in several regions of Spain during Semana Santa (holy week). Traditionally, it resembles a large doughnut topped with a hardboiled egg.

Roast Lamb

The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was 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. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God. Thus, the traditions merged.

Ham

His a traditional Easter food in the United States, . In the early days, meat was slaughtered in the fall. There was no refrigeration, and the fresh pork that wasn’t consumed during the winter months before Lent was cured for spring. The curing process took a long time, and the first hams were ready around the time Easter rolled around. Thus, ham was a natural choice for the celebratory Easter dinner.

Pretzels 

Were first shaped to indicate the torso of a person with arms folded, praying.

Easter Biscuits

Easter Biscuits are sometimes called “Cakes”, and are eaten on Easter Sunday. They contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon rind and are often made into shapes such as eggs or bunnies.

Resources: wikipedia.org, ww.telegraph.co.uk, www.paddys.com.au, http://homecooking.about.com/

 

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