Easter Food Traditions Around the World

As we dig into our glazed ham and spring vegetables, what will the rest of the world be eating this Easter?
Greek Magiritsa

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Easter Food Traditions Around the World

Easter Food Traditions Around the World

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American children will be expecting an Easter weekend filled with marshmallow Peepscandy baskets, Easter egg hunts, and a decadent dinner of roast ham and spring vegetables. However, that’s not the case for the rest of the world. From Lebanese ma’amoul cookies, to Greek lamb soup, we’ve taken a look at the many and varied Easter food traditions all around the world.

American Easter Ham

American Easter Ham

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The American tradition of eating ham at Easter started years ago, before refrigeration existed. The animals were traditionally slaughtered in the fall, and, to make the meat last, the meat was cured. The curing process took so long that it wasn’t until Easter that the first hams were ready. Ham has thereby become a celebratory Easter dinner centerpiece, which many households in America enjoy every Easter Sunday.

For the Perfect Easter Ham recipe, click here.

Argentinian Torta Pascualina

Argentinian Torta Pascualina

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Literally translated as “Eastertime Tart,” Torta Pascualina, has been a traditional Argentinian Easter dish since the sixteenth century, when the Italian immigrants brought the recipe to Argentina with them. This spinach and ricotta pie has raw eggs cracked into it, which cook as the pie bakes in the oven. When you serve it, every slice has a cross-section of a cooked egg in it, making this pie the prettiest egg-focused Easter celebration dish.

For the Torta Pascualina recipe, click here.

British Hot Cross Buns

British Hot Cross Buns
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These spiced, fruit buns, marked with a white cross, are traditionally eaten on Good Friday morning to signify the end of Lent. The cross on top is there to symbolize Jesus’ crucifixion, and it’s said that the spices used in the buns represent the spices used to embalm Jesus at his funeral.

For the Hot Cross Buns recipe, click here.

Ecuadorian Fanesca

Ecuadorian Fanesca
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The 12-bean Ecuadorian soup, called ‘fanesca,’ is only ever cooked at Easter. It’s exact recipe and preparation varies from region to region, but it will always include 12 different types of beans and grains, pumpkin, bacalao, and milk. The 12 different grains represent the 12 apostles of Jesus. Catholicism doesn’t allow for any meat to be eaten during Holy week, which explains how this meat-free Easter dish came about.

French Roast Leg of Lamb

French Roast Leg of Lamb

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Roast lamb is a traditional Easter dish in many countries, but a roast leg of lamb is a French Easter staple. Lamb has long been a feature on Easter dinner tables as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice (lamb is considered a sacrificial animal), and also because it symbolizes new life, as does the spring season.

For the Celebration Leg of Lamb recipe, click here.

German Chervil Soup

The Germans call Maundy Thursday ‘Gründonnerstag,’ which literally means ‘Green Thursday.’ Although the word didn’t originate from the word ‘grün’ (green), but instead from ‘greinen,’ which means ‘to weep,’ it remains a German tradition to eat lots of green vegetables to mark this day which commemorates Jesus’ last supper.

For the German Chervil Soup recipe, click here.

Greek Mageiritsa

Greek Mageiritsa

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The Greek Orthodox tradition is to break the fast after the Midnight Liturgy service on Easter Saturday with this lamb soup. This soup is made of lamb offal. The head, neck, intestines, heart, and liver are cooked in this dish as traditionally it was made of the parts of the lamb that were removed before it was roasted for the main Easter meal on Sunday.

For the Greek Easter Lamb Soup recipe, click here.

Italian Colomba di Pasquale

Italian Colomba di Pasquale

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Every Easter, Italians will enjoy the traditional dove-shaped Colomba di Pasquale bread. This celebratory sweet bread, dotted with candied peel, is shaped like a white dove, as a symbol of peace. It was originally made in the northern Italian region of Lombardia, but is now enjoyed all over the country every Easter weekend.

For the Colomba di Pasquale recipe, click here.

Jamaican Bun and Cheese

Jamaican Bun and Cheese

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The Jamaican Easter tradition of eating a spiced bun with cheese is a result of the British bringing the Good Friday hot cross bun tradition over to this island. The Jamaican bun has evolved from the hot cross bun to become a darker loaf, rich with spices and mixed dried fruit. It’s always eaten with a slice of canned or processed cheese, and this combination has become engrained in the Jamaican Easter traditions.

Lebanese Ma’amoul

Lebanese Ma’amoul

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Sweet Lebanese ma’amoul cookies are traditionally prepared on Good Friday, baked on Easter Saturday, and eaten on Easter Sunday every year. The semolina shortbread exterior is sugar-free, said to symbolize Jesus’ sad death, while the dried fruit and sugary nut filling is joyfully sweet, to symbolize Jesus’ resurrection.

For the Ma’amoul recipe, click here.

Mexican Capirotada

Mexican Capirotada

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This exotic bread pudding is a traditional dish made on Ash Wednesday in Mexico. All its ingredients are laden with symbolism to remember Christ’s suffering on the cross: The bread represents Jesus’ body, the syrup reminds us of his blood, the cloves are the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks echo the wooden cross, and the melted cheese is a symbol of the Holy Shroud.                                   

For the Mexican Capirotada recipe, click here.

Russian Kulich

Russian Kulich

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This tall, soft, fruit-studded sweet bread is eaten in Russia at Easter to break the fast of Lent. The bread requires a lot of rising and oven time, and is only ever made for the Easter weekend. It’s a classic Easter sweet, which is quite similar to the more commonly known Italian panettone, in shape, texture, and flavor.

Sicilian Easter Lamb Pie

Sicilian Easter Lamb Pie

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Throughout Sicily, this rich, herbal lamb pie is eaten on Easter Sunday. Each family has their own unique recipe which they follow. The most traditional recipes use the whole leg of lamb — bones included. Using the bones in the pie makes for a stronger, juicier filling, and typically the meat of a very young, spring lamb would be used.

Spanish Rosquillas de Semana Santa

Spanish Rosquillas de Semana Santa

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These Spanish Holy Week doughnuts were traditionally made by monks and nuns at Easter, using breadcrumbs flavored with rosemary, honey, and cinnamon. During the Semana Santa, many different sweet treats are enjoyed all over Spain, but these sweet, cake-like doughnuts are always extremely popular.

Swedish Semlor

Traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, as the last festive sweet treat before the period of fasting in Lent, these cardamom-spiced buns, filled with almond paste and whipped cream, are an extremely popular Scandinavian treat. Now, however, the Swedish are not as strict with fasting as they once were, and these buns are enjoyed every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.

For the Semlor recipe, click here.