When it comes to Easter, we all know what it’s like to fight tooth and nail for that last packet of hot cross buns. But why are these delicious golden rolls so popular at this time of year, and where does pickled fish fit in? Beyond decorated hard-boiled eggs and chocolate bunnies, there are a number of traditional Easter foods that we indulge in this time of year. They vary from country to country and include everything from sweet breads and cakes to meat and egg dishes. Let’s take a look at some of the traditional Easter foods eaten around the world and their origins.
Lamb is the one traditional Easter food that is common among several cultures. However, the tradition of eating lamb on Easter comes from the Jews before the birth of Christianity.
It dates back to the biblical story of the Egyptian plagues where during the final plague, the Jewish people painted their doors red with lamb’s blood so God would ‘pass over’ their homes and spare their first-born sons. From then, lamb has been eaten on the Jewish holiday of Pesach (or Passover) to represent the protection of a chosen people. Jews who since converted to Christianity continue the tradition every Easter.
On a less symbolic note, it’s believed that lamb would have been one of the first fresh meats available after a long winter. So, it makes sense that this would be part of a spring Easter table.
2. Stuffed Eggs
Eggs have long been synonymous with Easter for several cultures. They are symbols of new life, rebirth, fertility, as well as the resurrection of Christ. As decorating hard-boiled eggs became a thing, dishes like deviled eggs became popular to avoid wasting valuable food.
As such, in Poland, you will find the Easter staple of faszerowany jajka or ‘stuffed eggs’. Similar to deviled eggs, they feature a delicious filling of ham, cheese, sour cream, and mustard, with a breadcrumb topping.
View this post on Instagram
#stuffedeggs Egg,Avocado,Cream cheese,Pickled Cucumber,Dill,Coriander,Salt and Pepper همون تخم مرغ آب پز خودمونه?از وسط نصف شده و زرده هاش با نصف آووکادو، یک قاشق غذاخوری پنیر خامه ای،یک عدد خیارشور رنده شده، یک قاشق غذاخوری گشنیز و شوید خرد شده، نمک و فلفل مخلوط شده. هم خیلی خوشمزه ست هم حسابی سیر نگه تون میداره. غذای تنبلونه ست? . پ ن: حتمن حتمن خیلی زود دستور نان حلقه ای و رولِ سوسیس رو براتون میذارم? #lowcarbdiet #lowcarbhighfat #lowcarb #ketogenic #keto #ketodiet #ketogenicdiet #ketogenicweightloss #ketogeniclifestyle #ketorecipes #lchf #lchfdiet#کتوژنیک #کتوژنیک_دایت #کتوژنیک_لایف_استایل #لوکرب #لوکرب_های_فت #کاهش_وزن
As eggs and lamb are both symbolic foods at Easter, the Italians join these ingredients together with asparagus, creating a frittata-like dish known as brodetto pasquale.
ALSO SEE: Asparagus And Cheese Tart Recipe
Chałka or Challah is a sweet, braided egg bread used in Sabbath and holiday rituals for Jews. It’s extremely popular in Poland where it is served all year round, but particularly at Christmas and Easter. It may or may not contain raisins, and any leftovers are usually eaten the next day as French toast or in a bread pudding with orange sauce.
View this post on Instagram
Baking is therapy ?? Try a Rosemary Honey Challah loaf for your Sunday ? . All my love✨?? : Recipe Link in Bio⬆️ . . . . . . . . . #foodstyleguide #foodstyling #thebakefeed #feedfeed #foodfluffer #still_life_gallery #bakersgonnabake #bakersofinstagram #breadbaker #bakingtherapy #quarantinebaking #nashvillefoodie #theartofslowliving #createtoinspire #bakedfromscratch #damnthatsdelish #mytablesituation #bakingday #goodmoodfood #realsimple #makeitdelicious #challah #food52 #huffposttaste
4. Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns are enjoyed in many countries, but their origins seem rooted in Britain, where ancient Anglo-Saxons baked small wheat cakes to honour the goddess of Spring, Eostre. After converting to Christianity, the cakes were substituted with sweet breads blessed by the church.
Eating hot cross buns is also said to mark the end of Lent, as these delightful, spiced buns are made with dairy products forbidden during this fasting period. And, like so many traditional Easter foods, hot cross buns are steeped in symbolism. The cross along the top is said to represent Jesus’ crucifixion and the spices inside symbolise the spices used to embalm His body at His burial.
ALSO SEE: Easy Hot Cross Buns Recipe
5. Simnel Cake
A classic British cake eaten at Easter is the simnel cake, a fruit cake containing plenty of marzipan. It’s associated with the end of Lent as it contains ingredients that were forbidden during this time, such as spices, fruits, and marzipan.
The Simnel cake began as a yeast-leavened bread in medieval times. What made it special was the fact that it was made from the highest quality flour available at the time.
ALSO SEE: Simnel Cake Recipe
6. Pickled Fish
Cape Malay-style pickled fish (known as ingelegde vis or Kaapse kerrievis) is a traditional Easter food from Cape Town. It’s usually served with hot cross buns or freshly baked bread, but where does the tradition come from? The history of it isn’t clear but the aromatic dish is now enjoyed in Muslim and Christian homes alike.
It’s believed that eating fish pickled in vinegar on Good Friday symbolises Jesus being offered vinegar to drink at His crucifixion. This is also why it’s usually eaten together with hot cross buns.
Much like potato salad, pickled fish recipes differ from household to household as recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.
View this post on Instagram
Easter is here! Don’t feel like cooking? South Africans generally eat what’s called ‘pickled fish’, pan seared and pickled for 72hrs (the longer the better) and eaten with a hot cross bun. Wash it down with South African craft beer or award winning, signature wine varieties like Pinotage (red) or Chenin Blanc (white). #pickledfish #southafrica #melbournefood
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst
As the food and decor editor of Woman&Home, Claire enjoys nothing more than eating great food in beautiful locations. In a perfect world, she would travel for a living and have a Lord of the Rings marathon every weekend.