Many different foods grace the table on Easter, the holiday that Christians around the world celebrate to commemorate the end of the Lenten fast and the rebirth of Christ. Cultural heritage and family traditions influence the menu for the festivities, though there are some favorite dishes that families look forward to every year.
Many people, especially in the United States, choose ham as their main course, and those with Greek or Italian roots often prefer lamb. Eggs, symbolizing rebirth, are not only for the kids' Easter egg hunt but also to be savored as the ever-popular deviled eggs.
Other dishes vary more widely from culture to culture; Russians enjoy paskha, a sweet, molded dish made from fresh cheese; in Poland a sour rye soup reminiscent of borscht is often served; and the Italians celebrate with a traditional Italian Easter specialty known as torta di pasqua, a pecorino and prosciutto bread. Side dishes vary widely, and everyone knows to save room for dessert.
Here are some popular Easter dishes from a variety of cultures. As with many holidays, food traditions are often passed down from generation to generation, but sometimes it's nice to dip into other ethnicities for new inspiration. Try one or more of these recipes for your Easter celebration this year.
Hot Cross Buns by Jamie Oliver
These and other sweet, yeast-leavened breads are very popular in many countries. They often contain fruit and these buns have a symbolic cross iced on the top.
Red Eggs by Susanna Hoffman
Softly or brightly colored hard-cooked eggs factor into many celebrations, used in some of the dishes, such as breads (Tsoureki, in Greece, for instance), or strewn about the lawn for children to collect. In Greece, the eggs are dyed a brilliant red to symbolize Christ's blood and simultaneously abundance and wealth and even newfound joy.