Ever wondered how Easter is celebrated in other countries? Let’s take a little trip and explore a few other customs (mainly foodie of course).
The Greek Orthodox Easter falls on a different day than Catholic Easter, but there are many similarities when it comes to food. Every Greek table will feature lamb and red eggs in some form, not to mention tsoureki, an orange and spice scented braided bread. The feasting will often start with mezethes (starters) of olives, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), tzatziki, filo pastry parcels with spinach and cheese or an Avgomelo soup – a delicious orzo and egg soup with lots of lemon juice. The lamb can be served roasted with herbs and potatoes or in the form of Keftedes (meatballs). Sweet cookies and cakes are served as a dessert with Greek coffee and a digestive.
Wednesday before Easter is called ‘Ugly Wednesday’ and the food served is meant to be unsightly. Often, cooks make potato (or other) pancakes and they would purposefully tear or slightly burn them. Or they might make a simple semolina dish called ‘trhanec‘. This is baked sponge, ‘torn up’ and served with cream and fruit.
On ‘Green Thursday’ green soups, salads with lots of fresh spring greens and herbs with lentils and pulses are eaten.
Friday is referred as ‘Big Friday’ and fish or a thick soup is served.
On ‘White Saturday’, as the fast is coming to an end, buttery and rich baked goods are served.
Then on Sunday, the family would enjoy a full spread of meats (lamb or pork), baked goods (especially ‘beranek‘ – sweet cake baked in the shape of a lamb) and lots of veggies.
Easter Monday is all about the eggs. They are decorated, eaten and boys go around the villages with ‘pomlazka‘ (essentially a stick weaved out of young twigs of a willow and decorated with bows), spanking the girls in exchange for eggs. This is a somewhat strange traditions, especially since the girls are encouraged to listen to a short poem and get their yearly spanking in order to stay young for the rest of the year, but each to their own.
Eggs and lamb are prominent in Italy around Easter – sometimes even combined (like a traditional lamb and greens frittata). An egg and rice soup is eaten for Easter lunch, often with meatballs. A light starter might come before the soup course, usually involving eggs in some form (fried with cheese or boiled with asparagus). For a main dish, lamb is a preferred meat of choice. If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, try the Torta Pasqualina (Easter cake), a Ligurian quiche with chard (or other greens), eggs and ricotta. To finish, a sweet ring shaped cake or a colomba (dove shaped cake symbolising peace – the counterpart of Christmas panettone and pandoro) is served.
Chocolate is big around Easter in France with shopfronts being decorated with chocolate chickens, eggs and various other animals (although bunny is not as popular as it is elsewhere). Easter is the time to create edible works of art. For the traditional Easter lunch, roast lamb if often served as a symbol of spring and new life, with vegetables and a potato side dish (such as potato dauphinois or gratin), followed by a chocolate based dessert and of course a chessboard.