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Easter and Lent Traditions: Egg Frittata, Easter Bread and Palm Crosses

Updated on March 28, 2014
Easter Bread, Egg Frittata and Palm Cross
Easter Bread, Egg Frittata and Palm Cross | Source

The Meaning of Easter

Although you may associate Easter with eggs and the Easter bunny, it has a much deeper meaning for Christians throughout the world. Each year, Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter, which is preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, penance and prayer.

Easter is a special religious holiday with many family traditions. Growing up Catholic allowed me to learn not only about the religious meaning of Easter, but also about the foods, activities and events that took place during the Easter season.

Easter does not have a fixed date on the calendar. The First Council of Nicaea, a group of Christian who met in Nicaea in 325 AD, established the date of Easter to be the first Sunday after the Pascal full moon following the March equinox. The date of Easter varies between March 22nd and April 25th.

Easter - The Resurrection of Christ
Easter - The Resurrection of Christ | Source
Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday | Source

What is Lent?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, when blessed ashes made from the previous Palm Sunday, are administered on the foreheads of Christians in the sign of the cross, by priests, ministers or other clergymen.

In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting, abstinence from meat and repentance.

You may have heard the expression “Fat Tuesday” which is the day before Ash Wednesday. This is also known as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. “Fat Tuesday” is a day that some indulge in fancy or “fatty” foods since the Lenten season, including abstinence of meat of Fridays for Catholics, and making sacrifices, is about to begin. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and refers to the carnival celebrations that begin on or after the Epiphany before Ash Wednesday.

Lent continues for approximately 6 weeks. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday), Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The day after Holy Saturday is Easter Sunday.

Palm Cross
Palm Cross | Source

Palm Sunday and Palm Weaving

Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, commemorates the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday, there is normal the blessing of the Palm, or palm leaves. Several palm leaves are given to each person who attends the church mass.

Growing up, my mother taught me how to make crosses from the palm given on Palm Sunday. I have fond memories of Palm Sunday when our family sat together making crosses and even baskets from palm leaves. It was a fun craft for all ages. We made crosses from 2 pieces of palm, which typically looked like the image in this photo on the right.

How to Make a Palm Cross

In this next video, look at the beautifully weaved palm items shown at the beginning and end of the video.

Palm Weaving

Good Friday
Good Friday | Source

Good Friday

On Good Friday, the Church mourns for the death of Jesus Christ.

Some churches have a meditation and prayer service to reflect on the Three Hours of Agony, from midday until 3pm to commemorate the hours that Jesus suffering dying on the cross.

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil

On the night before Easter, on Holy Saturday, one of the longest and most solemn liturgical services in the Roman Catholic Church takes place: the Easter Vigil. For anyone who has never attended an Easter Vigil, it can last up to 3 or 4 hours, and consists of several parts: the Service of the Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism, where new members of the church receive the sacrament of Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist. Some churches have a candle lighting ceremony.

Egg Frittata and Easter Bread on Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is a celebration of the risen Christ. Christians attend church and then feast on various traditions dishes on this special day.

For breakfast or brunch, growing up, we always feasted on a delicious egg frittata. Frittata (pronounced “fri – tat – taa”) is an egg based Italian dish, similar to quiche. Frittatas may contain meats, cheeses (traditionally, ricotta cheese), vegetables and even pasta. They can be as thick as a hearty quiche, or a bit thinner, depending on the ingredients and preferences.

Egg Frittata
Egg Frittata | Source

Our family’s traditional frittata contained lots of eggs, chopped up ham, some ricotta cheese, and some kind of vegetable, which was usually asparagus. As the years passed, I stopped using ricotta cheese and just went with a basic, hearty omelette filled with healthy ingredients such as eggs, lowfat cheese and vegetables. I substitute spinach for asparagus. My frittata today looks more like this:

My Homemade Egg Frittata with Spinach
My Homemade Egg Frittata with Spinach | Source

Here’s a healthy frittata recipe that I found to share:

In additional to frittata, another favorite family tradition was Easter Bread. Local bakeries traditional make traditional Easter Bread by baking twisted bread in the oven with decorated eggs. The finished product typically looks like this:

Easter Bread
Easter Bread | Source

The photo above was Easter Bread that I ordered in the past from a local bakery. It was hot and fresh out of their oven, and quite delicious! It’s a sweat bread, and best eaten when it’s fresh. The eggs in the bread are normally removed to make egg salad or add to any dish that calls for hard-boiled eggs.

Easter Basket
Easter Basket | Source

Easter Basket

Along with eating egg frittata, Easter Bread (containing hard boiled eggs), the eggs don’t stop there on Easter. Of course no Easter would be complete without the traditional coloring of hard-boiled eggs and displaying them in a pretty Easter basket.

You can use freshly decorated eggs, or plastic eggs filled with tasty treats. You can also use plastic eggs filled with prizes and treats, and hide them around the house or yard for a fun Easter Egg Hunt!

Ponzette for Easter Dinner

For Easter dinner, our family traditionally had an Italian favorite, called “Ponzette” which was actually stuffed breast of veal. I always heard that word growing up, but I recently looked it up to see if it was a real word. I think the real word is panzetta but my mom always pronouned it as “pon-zette”. I have never made it, and only remember having it growing up as a child.

Over the years, Easter dinner at our house varied but always seemed to include either veal, ham or chicken, and that was the main course. However, like Thanksgiving, Easter was also filled with more courses in our Italian family. There was usually some kind of pasta served as well, with homemade meatballs. Incidentally, I don’t really eat veal and haven’t had ponzette since I was a little girl. I don’t think too many people make it anymore.

Traditional Antipasto Platter

And remember those eggs from the Easter Bread? Those eggs can be used to make a delicious antipasto dish, filled with sliced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, salami, tomatoes and olives, over a bed of lettuce. This served as either an appetizer or salad to accompany the main course.

Antipasto Platter
Antipasto Platter | Source

Does anybody out there remember “pon-zette” or “panzetta” (which is an old Italian dish of stuffed breast of veal)?

Are you familiar with the Italian dish pon-zette?

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    • Rachel Horon profile image

      Rachel Horon 3 years ago from Indiana

      A wonderful collection of memories and traditions to share!

    • easylearningweb profile image
      Author

      Amelia Griggs 3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment, Rachel, much appreciated. Glad you liked you hub!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Great hub. I'm not Christian and don't celebrate Easter, but I love Easter bread & hey-- frirtatas. Yum. Got me wanting to plan a breakfast this weekend. Nice work on this hub, lots of fun and interesting stuff. Enjoy your holiday!

    • easylearningweb profile image
      Author

      Amelia Griggs 3 years ago

      Thanks, WiccanDage, glad you liked the hub. Everyone can still enjoy the delicious treats and recipes during this holiday. Enjoy!

    • profile image

      Carole 5 months ago

      Do you have the recipe for ponzette that you can share? My Italian grandmother used to make it, and I don't have the recipe. Thanks.

    • easylearningweb profile image
      Author

      Amelia Griggs 5 months ago

      Hi Carole,

      That's wonderful to hear about your grandmother and how she used to make "Ponzette". My mother was the best cook ever, and although I never tried to make it, I found notes for the recipe for you. Here you go (please note, some ingredients have no measurement as my mom never wrote them down...she just knew exactly how much to put it...like magic):

      When buying a ponzette, find one that's not too thick, and one with a good size pocket).

      For stuffing:

      2 eggs

      2 cups bread crumbs (approx.)

      a dash of milk

      parsley

      grated cheese

      1 or 2 pieces of cooked sausage with skin off, break up or chop in small pieces

      chopped garlic

      chopped onion

      Mix all above, it should not be too soft or too hard, it should be moist, add more milk if needed.

      Stuff pocket and tie with string and large needle (made for cooking)

      In dish, mix some paprika, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, parsley, basil, and brush or run on ponzette.

      In roasting pan, put a little oil, add chopped carrots, celery, onion, parsley, a little water.

      Add ponzette in pan, cover, with lid or foil, cook 2 - 2 1/2 hours, remove lid for last 15-30 min. to brown, cook at 350-375 degrees.

      Check every 1/2 hr. add water to keep moist.

      When done, then with sharp knife, cut into slices, along the bone (like ribs).

      My mom sometimes would put it back in over after slicing to warm again.

      ENJOY!!! Now I have to try to make it just like my mom. Thank you for your interest, because of your post, I found the recipe and this brought back wonderful memories!

      Regards,

      Easylearningweb

      (Amelia)

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