[gtranslate] Easter Food Traditions Worldwide - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

Easter Food Traditions Worldwide

Easter Food Traditions Worldwide

As the Easter season comes to an end, I chose to “travel” around the world via studying a handful of Easter recipes and food traditions. I wondered what history lay behind the dishes that celebrate and commemorate the most important event for our salvation: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. There’s something sacred about a shared meal that’s always drawn me to it—just look at the Mass—a shared meal of Holy Communion. So how have humans made sacred their Easter communions?

For Christians worldwide, national Easter traditions abound. According to a study by the World Atlas, Sweden features a children’s Easter Parade; Haiti mixes together African and Christian customs; France celebrates with a favorite Easter treat, a giant omelet; and in Poland there are Śmigus-dyngus celebrations. With all these traditions though, serving splendid Easter meals is a popular way most countries celebrate the holy day.1

To narrow our food travel in this article, I chose to look at Easter celebrations in Spain, Italy, and the United States.

Easter Food Traditions in Spain

In Spain, Easter week starts with Domingo de Ramos, or Palm Sunday, which begins a week of processions that commemorate Christ’s passion. In addition to processions, the Spanish celebrate with delicious treats, such as the traditional favorite torrijas. Like French toast, this Spanish treat is made up of bread soaked in egg and milk; however, torrijas differ from their “French” counterpart because wine is added to the soaking mixture as well.

Another specialty is called sopa de ajo, or garlic soup. According to history, the original version was made with broth, garlic, olive oil, bread, paprika, and eggs. The bread adds texture to the soup and a hard-boiled or fried egg sits in the center of the bowl.

A fried empanada filled with custard, called bartolillo madrileño, originated in Madrid and is readily available in all local bakeries during Holy Week as well.2

Easter Food Traditions in Italy

Easter is one of Italy’s most important and exciting holidays. The country holds a wealth of popular food traditions that people enjoy during Easter week. For example, traditional Italian Easter foods include lamb or goat; artichokes; Easter breads, some shaped like a dove; boiled eggs; and pannetone, or sweet bread. A typical Easter dinner includes a soup, salad, pasta, and lamb served with wine. Serving lamb symbolizes life, while the eggs symbolize rebirth.2

Known as crescia di Pasqua, torta al formaggio, or Pizza di Pasqua, this central Italian dish is often served for Easter breakfast. It is a salt cake made with flour, eggs, pecorino, and parmigiano cheese. Another popular Easter food is the Colomba, a very popular bread that symbolizes the peace dove.3

Easter Food Traditions in the US

In the United States, Easter festivities vary from going to church to hosting Easter egg hunts out back. However, food traditions have remained consistent over decades.

For one, the classic Easter ham is frequently the focal point of an Easter dinner. Whether honey-baked, maple-glazed, or a simple spiral-cut, ham has been an Easter staple because of its availability during the season. Pigs are processed during the springtime.

If not ham, however, another popular staple is roast lamb. After all, Jesus Christ is known as the Lamb of God.

Another must-eat in many American homes are the hot cross buns. These sweet yeast buns are made with butter, milk, cinnamon, and raisins and are decorated with a cross on top. Most American bakeries and markets offer them around Easter time. Bakeries also feature the braided bread shaped like a wreath with dyed hard-boiled eggs baked into the bread during this season as well.

Another renowned Easter food with Christian roots is the pretzel, a word that means “little arms.” The pretzel twists represent arms connected in prayer.4

It’s fascinating to me to learn the similarities and variances between food traditions across cultures. Within cultures, families form their own takes on recipes and festivities, uniting the history of their home and generations to come with their cultural roots.

How did your family celebrate Easter this year?

Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash

110 Different Ways Easter Is Celebrated Around The World. (n.d.). WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-different-ways-easter-is-celebrated-around-the-world.html.

2Zawadzki, J. (2023, March 6). 10 Most Popular Spanish Easter Foods. Chef’s Pencil. https://www.chefspencil.com/spain-easter-food/.

3Italy, S. (2018, March 29). 10 Traditional Easter Foods in Italy. https://slowitaly.yourguidetoitaly.com/2018/03/traditional-easter-foods-in-italy/.

4Bochain, A. (2023, February 10). Easter Food Traditions in America. Chef’s Pencil, https://www.chefspencil.com/easter-food-traditions-in-america/.‌

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