Come Easter and Lent is ending. Spring is starting, the days are getting longer, the air is getting milder and summer is not far away either. And with the warmer period a whole new range of fresh foods is enjoyed, but of course Easter has some great food traditions as well.
When we think of Easter, we think eggs! Coloured hard boiled eggs are probably one of the first things that come to mind. The tradition of decorating real eggs for Easter dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1290 the English king, Edward I, ordered 450 eggs to be covered in gold leaf to be given as Easter presents. It is thought that the bright hues used to decorate Easter eggs were meant to mirror the colors of the reawakening spring growth.
Another favourite are Hot Cross Buns, which derived from ancient Anglo-Saxons who baked those wheat cakes in honour of the springtime godddess, Eostre. There is a centuries old children's rhyme: "Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns." Dating back to medieval times, the buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but they are now popular all around the Easter season. The shape of the bun was said to represent the stone that sealed Jesus's tomb, while the spices were a reminder of those with which his body was buried.
The classic Easter meal in the UK is roast lamb. It goes back to earlier traditions, refering to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. Christians refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God, thus, the traditions merged.
After the lean months of winter and the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter, food at Easter still remains a special treat. Easter day, like Christmas day, is also associated with special food.
Eggs are usually served at breakfast, but they can also be prepared as a snack or appetizer before a larger meal or party.
Roast lamb, is the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day. It is served with mint sauce and vegetables.
The traditional Easter pudding is custard tarts sprinkled with currants and flat Easter biscuits. Easter biscuits contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon rind.
Simnel cake, a rich fruitcake covered with a thick layer of almond paste. Usually baked for tea.
Hot cross buns are sweet treats, fragrant with fruit and spices, are marked with a cross, either slashed into the dough before baking, or drizzled on in icing afterwards.
Last but not least a good Chocolate Easter Egg is part of every Easter celebration!
Gifts and Traditions
The first eggs given at Easter were birds eggs. These eggs were painted in bright colours to give them further meaning as a gift.
As chocolate became more wide spread in the 20th Century, a chocolate version of the traditional painted egg was developed. Today we can buy all sorts of chocolate eggs with different flavours and in various sizes. Chocolate Easter Eggs can be hollow or have a filling.
Egg hunts are a very special treats for kids. Chocolate eggs are hidden for the children to find on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. This game has been linked to the Easter Bunny, which only arrived in England relatively recently.
Another British Easter custom is egg rolling or the egg race, when competitors try to be the first to roll their egg across a course or down a hill… without breaking it!
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