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Traditional Easter Foods and their History

Updated on May 4, 2011


When the first flowers bloom and mild weather is on the way, usually Easter is right around the corner. Children await with anticipation this holiday looking forward to goodies from the Easter bunny, while adults look forward to church and family gatherings around a table full of hearty meals. Traditional Easter foods are therefore served for everybody's delight, turning the day into a memorable event.

Perhaps the first food to come to mind, when referring to Easter foods is ham. Meat in the old days was usually slaughtered in fall, causing the meat that was not consumed in the winter to be cured and therefore, ready for consumption right around Easter time, thus, making it the perfect Easter time meal. Ham is typically served as a main dish, baked and glazed with honey or pineapple.

Eggs are as well a staple of Easter for many. They are a symbol of rebirth, resurrection and immortality. They typically were forbidden in the old days during Lent, so this may explain why they may have been so appealing days later once Lent was over. The bright colors emphasize their importance while adding a sense of joy and celebration. While the eggs decorated abroad may appear pretty colorful in joyful pastel colors, Polish Easter eggs are quite a work of art. Other intrinsic and quite elaborate Easter eggs are produced by the Ukrainians and Slavics.

Hot Cross Buns are a traditional food made out of yeasty bread along with flour, milk, sugar, butter and spices consisting of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These were served typically in England on Good Friday because they were typically marked with the sign of the cross representing  the resurrection of Christ.

Lamb is another traditional food that derives from the fact that lamb has remained a symbol of Christ's death on the cross. It is typically served roasted with mint jelly. Lamb still remains a popular Easter dish of many countries in Central Europe. Lambs are also born in Spring making them readily available for consumption by Easter.

Pretzels are part of foods served for Easter because they were accepted for Lent and because their shape symbolized arms crossed as if in prayer.

Of course, Easter does not feel like Easter without jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate Easter bunnies for the fun and delight of all children. Chocolate eggs in particular, are produced to entice children and of course chocolate manufacturers benefit from such production. They make great fillers for Easter baskets and can be hidden for children to search.

As seen, Easter is a great way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ while reuniting with loved ones and enjoying great meals at the table. Easter foods help make the holiday memorable for Christian families around the world while allowing quality time with family and friends.


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