Today is Good Friday, and whether you are Catholic, Jewish, or religious at all, you most likely have the day of school or work off to honor the beginning of the holiday weekend. If you do not even know what I am talking about, just walk into a Walgreens to be reminded of the coming festivities. Oh yeah, Cadbury Eggs!
Easter is of the holiest religious holidays for Catholics, and while I do not intend to profess my faith or preach here today, I have to say that Easter is indeed an interesting holiday, especially for the Eastern world. Sadly, I do find that religious holidays here in America are infected with the plague of big business greed and commercial brainwashing all of which take precedent over a holiday that is cherished by tens of millions throughout the globe.
When I was a little girl, my parents would dress myself and sisters up in frilly floral dresses from JCPenney (my memory is crystal clear, mom!) and we would always attend Easter Sunday church. The schedule was as follows: wake up super early, run to Easter basket filled with candy and that annoying fake grass that got everywhere, stuff face with chocolate and jelly beans behind mom and dad’s back, go to Church high on sugar, come home to eat all day with family.
That was the process. Today, not so much. Now I sleep through all masses, most likely with a killer wine hangover. However, mother mom still makes us grown kids Easter baskets. (Who’s complaining?)
Then we eat. But what do we eat? Easter Sunday cuisine is different around the world, and although this year (in light of my sisters’ recent protest against eating lamb) we will be eating a ham, lamb is pretty much how cultures across the globe begin a feast on Easter Sunday.
Sarah On the Go Easter traditional dinner:
- Stuffed artichokes made from stale Italian bread soaked in water, anchovies, Kalamata olives, fresh-cut garlic, drizzled with olive oil. This is my all-time favorite food, ever in the history of civilization.
- Pizzagaina (pronounced: a-beetsa-gain) is an Italian meat pie made with ham, hard salami, Genoa salami, hot capicola, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella in a flaky homemade pie.
- Leg of lamb
1. The whole egg thing? That dates back to the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who would decorate eggs (ancient-style Paas) and give them to those they loved as a symbol of life. Painted bright colors to welcome the new Spring season, the Easter Egg has history in just about every Catholic country, for more information read here.
3. Historians have traced the word “Easter” back in several cultures, dating back to ancient times, where Easter or “Ostra” in Scandinavia, “Ostern” in Germany, and even as far back as Babylonian times. The word is actually the name of the ancient goddess of fertility, and is a Pre-Christian name that carried on.
How Easter is Celebrated in Other Cultures
In Spain, Easter week is referred to as “Semana Santa,” and begins on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ends on Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua). On Ash Wednesday, church-goers will carry huge palm leaves and olive branches to be blessed by the Priest, and most churches will then hold a parade, where Spaniards will dress is robes with pointy headgear. Street processions are huge in celebrating Easter for Spain. Like many in America, Good Friday is off-limits to meat.
- Torrijas: thick slices of bread soaked in milk and eggs then fried in olive oil with honey or sugar.
- La Mona de Pascua: popularly eaten during Easter, these cakes are all about flair; chocolate figurines, feathers, grandeur.
- Lamb is the traditional meat for Easter Sunday, while Paella is second.
In Russia, Easter is “Pashka,” which means “Great Night” stemming from Ancient Greece, referring to the night that Jesus Christ spent in the Garden before his death. Russians partake in egg-coloring, which are predominantly red for the blood of Christ, and when opening, they use nails to again remind themselves of His death. Throughout the Holy Week, church meetings and prayer is most common. On Easter Sunday, people will attend mass with pastries, and greet each other with three kisses with the phrase, “Kulichi,” or “Christ is Alive.”
- Smoked fish on black bread
- Kurnik, a chicken pie
- Salted herring and beat salad
Czech Republic celebrates Easter, or “Velikonoce” with an array of folk customs dating back to Pre-Christian times. There are celebrations all week-long before Easter Sunday. The names for their Holy Week differ greatly from those of other Easter-celebrating countries. For example, Holy Monday is referred to as “Whipping Monday,” where young boys whip young girls on the legs with a braided pussy willow while reciting an Easter carol to bring health and youth. Children are let out of school on “Ugly Wednesday,” in order to decorate their towns beautifully for celebration.
- Judas Cake is referred to as a dessert of God’s Mercy, a pineapple and nut doughnut that is traditionally decorated with eleven marzipan balls to represent the eleven apostles remaining after the Crucifixion.
- Lamb is also a dinner staple in the Czech Republic
- Easter Lamb Cake, a cake in the shape of a lamb is customary for Easter Sunday dessert. It requires four ingredients.