What is Italian Easter Bread?

The origins of this sweet bread go all the way back to the Byzantium era

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

This traditional bread is usually baked with raw eggs that are sometimes decorated or dyed for visual effect.

This traditional holiday bread is sweet dough that is braided into various shapes (most often into a wreath shape) and eaten over the Easter weekend. It’s commonly enjoyed across the world but is most popular in Europe. The practice allegedly dates all the way back to Byzantium and the original Orthodox Christian church, where the honey-sweetened loaves were commonly eaten as “communion” bread.

Today, Italian Easter Bread is usually decorated with eggs (which are sometimes dyed), tucked into the folds of the braids before baking. Though the eggs are edible, their placement in the bread is symbolic rather than culinary as eggs are a common Easter symbol, not only for their popular use in egg hunts, but  primarily for their historical association with fertility and re-birth.
Additionally, during Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter), eggs were originally forbidden, so it’s believed that once Easter came around, perhaps people saw it as a time to enjoy them again with gusto.

Read more from The Daily Meal about how to celebrate Easter.

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