Tradition is hard to ignore.
First, why would you want to? But even if you chose to forego some of the traditional trappings of holiday celebrations, there are certain others that would certainly be missed.
While the “Easter Parade” has all but disappeared in most communities, it is still a time to dress up a bit — maybe without the new “bonnet,” and Easter is certainly a time to gather with family and friends for special meals and social events. Food plays an important role, along with sunrise church services, new shoes and numerous scheduled egg hunts played out in neighborhoods throughout the nation.
Most familiar food traditions seem to involve sweets and treats for the children. Just how did candy eggs and chocolate bunnies become part of the somber Christian holy day?
According to most authorities, Easter observances have an origin in the pagan celebration of spring. The name stems from the Saxon goddess known as Eastre (or Oestre) whose earthly symbol was the hare. The “Easter Bunny” is thought to have originated in 18th Century Pennsylvania by German immigrants who brought their tradition of Oschter Haws. Children of the time made nests in which this somewhat unusual hare could lay its colored eggs. As the tradition evolved, the Easter Bunny filled a basket with eggs, candy and toys for children to find in the morning, giving rise to today’s egg hunts and festivities.
Here are 7 other Easter food traditions, with a sampling of favorite as well as uncommon recipes:
- Hard-boiled Eggs. If you find standard deviled eggs just a little bland and boring, try this interesting version with a dollop of horseradish — you’ll never want them any other way.
- Pretzels. Yes, these soft treats were once shaped like the torso of a person praying with arms crossed. These are easy to make; why not try them for your Easter dinner? You’ll want to make plenty, but they’re not difficult; start with refrigerated breadstick dough, and don’t forget the pesto.
- Hot Cross Buns are a standby during Lent, especially on Good Friday. These, filled with hazelnuts, currants and raisins, are especially good. Drizzle the frosting with a light hand and serve them warm for either breakfast or dinner.
- Lamb or Ham. Use your own favorite recipe, or try one of these. You’ll also find recipes for chicken and you won’t be disappointed, no matter which you choose!
- Salad. Easter dinner, whether it’s a brunch or a late afternoon buffet, ought to be full of fresh flavors, light and hearty at the same time. For crowd pleasing salads, consider Green Bean Potato Salad; Garden Potato Salad; Spinach and Romaine Salad; Apple Pear Salad or Avocado Fruit Salad.
- Spring vegetables. Any fresh vegetable will complement your entree, of course, but here are some especially tempting ideas that you’ll use again and again. Choose one or more from Spring Pea Pasta with Ricotta; Ginger Carrot Puree; Apricot Glazed Carrots; Creamed Collards, Roasted Fingerlings and Green Beans and Asparagus with a twist.
- Desserts. Lighter desserts just seem to go with Easter dinners. Try this Coconut Cake for a triumphant ending to your meal. Please everyone at the table with your favorite strawberry shortcake recipe. Or add an elegant touch with Carmelized Pineapple with Coconut Sorbet.
If you can’t make it through Easter weekend without your Peeps, know that you’re not alone. The phenomenon of these little marshmallow treats may be hard to explain, but it just seems to keep growing, and now the familiar chicks and bunnies are not just little yellow creatures. They’re multicolored, multi-flavored, multi-holiday staples, with much more to come, apparently. For 2016, there’s even a mystery flavor. And then there’s the movie!
Also, don’t forget those chocolate bunnies! And the candy eggs!