Easter Dinner: The Roots Of Our Traditional Feast
Easter is one of the few spring holidays we celebrate with family. We get dressed up in our best spring holiday wear and sit down to a feast with all the people we care about. We all have our own family traditions, but they started somewhere. Here are 4 Easter dinner traditions that we hold on to and where they came from.
Why we eat lamb on Easter has a few explanations. Before industrial farming, lamb was one of the first fresh meats available after winter. With Easter being the first spring holiday, the logical meat to serve was lamb. Lamb for Easter also has deep religious roots. In the Old Testament, lambs were used as sacrificial animals to atone for sin. According to the Bible, Jesus was considered the Lamb of God and was sacrificed to atone for everyone's sins.
In Northern Europe and much of the United States, lamb wasn't always easy to come by: you'd have better luck finding plush animals in the shape of lambs than finding one to serve for dinner. Instead, pigs were the primary source of meat. Even though pork was plentiful, the last slaughters were in the fall. Any meat that wasn't consumed fresh was cured or smoked and eaten before spring meats became available. Though we can easily get lamb for Easter, ham turned into a tradition for many.
Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns are a non-Christian symbol to celebrate spring and a Christian symbol to celebrate Easter. For non-Christians, the tradition of eating them in the spring was to honor the goddess of spring. For Christians, the cross on the buns symbolized Christ on the cross, but the tradition goes further to link Jesus and the raisin-filled bread. One bun is set-aside for a year with the belief it would not spoil. This idea was connected to Jesus rising from the dead without injuries. Whether you're a Christian or you want to celebrate spring, hot cross buns are a delicious way to welcome a Sunday in April.
There's no symbolism attached to deviled eggs, but the eggs themselves have significance. One reason eggs are served at Easter is because it was on the list of forbidden food during Lent and it was one of the foods eaten to break the fast. We also dye our Easter eggs and there are theories on the religious roots of dyed eggs. According to Orthodox Church in America, Mary Magdalene presented a red egg to the Roman Emperor after Christ's resurrection. Churches adopted the tradition and it evolved into the colored eggs we're familiar with today. We likely eat deviled eggs to use up the dozens of boiled eggs that we dyed.
There are many other foods we eat to celebrate Easter, potatoes, carrots, and asparagus to name a few, but those are more related to seasonal availability and the traditions we carry on that offer a familiar taste of home.
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