Easter is a beloved holiday worldwide and every country has their own traditions when it comes to celebrating and feasting. However, you will notice quite a few similarities as you read through the following list. For example, most countries view the holiday as a joyous celebration of life and renewal and most tend to serve some type of egg dish for the holiday as well as some type of sweet bread. Though we couldn’t possibly cover every single country on our list, here are quite a few countries and their most popular Easter food traditions.
Argentineans celebrate Easter with a delicious slice of Tarta Pasqualina. Tarta Pasqualina is a tart-like pastry dish stuffed with cheese, hard boiled eggs, spring onions, and spinach. It was introduced to the country by Italian immigrants in the 16th century.
Australia’s Easter celebrations are almost identical to the ones in the United States with one exception – instead of an Easter Bunny, they have an Easter Bilby. A bilby, or macrotis lagotis, is an adorable small, endangered, native burrowing marsupial with large rabbit-like ears and a long nose. One of the most popular Easter treats in Australia are the delicious and sweet traditional hot cross buns (LINK to recipe on Miz). Hot cross buns are small rolls made with raisins and decorated with a cross of icing over the top.
Austrians serve ham for Easter Sunday but not in the glazed spiral way many imagine. Instead they bake an entire ham completely encased in bread dough for a ready-made sandwich right out of the oven! They also may serve lamb-shaped cakes, other egg-heavy breads, eggs (of course), smoked meats, and sausages with spicy horseradish.
Ethiopia begins their Easter celebrations with a 56 day long fast, during which they will not consume either dairy or meats. Come Easter they put on a massive feast called Doro wot which consists of a spicy chicken stew, Injera bread (a sour spongy flatbread), and honey wine.
The French celebrate Easter with a wide variety of decadent chocolates! Exquisite and intricate eggs, hens, and bell-shaped treats are sure to be found in every local chocolateries’ window. Breakfast on Easter is traditionally an omelet in homage to Napoleon Bonaparte. He was said to have indulged quite extensively in omelets with his army and the local village of Haute-Garonne whip up a giant omelet (that includes over 15,000 eggs!) for Easter in his honor. For dinner the French make good use of seasonal spring flavors and serve dishes such as French onion soup, sautéed asparagus, plump fresh berries, cinnamon palmiers (flaky cookies), roasted lamb, gratin dauphinois (double-cooked potatoes with garlic seasoned cream and Gruyere cheese), Brussels sprouts, orange tarts, sorbets, and more.
Germans don’t celebrate Easter itself – though they have quite a few celebrations and traditions that go on over that time period. Prior to the start of Lent, Germans celebrate Karneval or Fasching with large parades and costumes and street parties. On Fat Tuesday they tend to indulge in fresh jelly doughnuts (known as Berliners, Krapfen, or Pfannkuchen) prior to the start of their Lent restrictions.
Greek traditions vary greatly depending on what region you are in. In the streets of Corfu they celebrate by throwing clay pots, while on Chios Island you can join in a friendly fireworks battle! However, no matter where you go you are bound to be served a variety of exquisite lamb dishes. Easter dinner typically begins with Avgolemono (a chicken and lemon soup) and includes other delicious treats such as red eggs and Tsoureki (a sweet braided bread).
Easter celebrations in Ireland typically begin on the first day of Lent, which is 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. Those who observe give up eating meat throughout Lent and then indulge again come Easter. The average Easter breakfast in Ireland consists of six eggs and dinner is usually either corned beef, a baked Easter ham, or boiled bacon served with cabbage and potatoes.
Easter in Italy is actually more of a friends celebration as opposed to Christmas which is celebrated with family. Traditionally dinner is served with a wonderful Italian Easter bread known as pane di pasqua. Pane di pasqua is a fluffy, eggy, sweet bread, bursting with flavors of citrus and anise, that is braided in a ring and served with a colorful egg in the center.
Jamaica likes to celebrate Easter with spiced bun much like a hot cross bun (but without the cross). Their spiced bun bread is filled with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and honey, plus a variety of dried fruits and is served with sliced cheese.
In Kenya you will find some stand out cuisine served for Easter including Nyama Choma (a spicy grilled meat) and Ugali (a maize flour porridge).
In Mexico Easter is celebrated as a large community affair complete with street foods like chicken croquetas, platanos (fried plantains), aguas fresco (fruit flavored water), fresh fruit bars, ice cream, churros, and more. The holiday marks the beginning of Semana de Pascua, a week of family vacation time. You will find a delicious variety of foods served for Easter meals made out of fish, shrimp, nopal (cactus), chacales (a soup made of dried white corn), empanadas, squash, fried tomatoes, and cheese. For dessert, indulge in Capiriotada – a Mexican bread pudding made with French bread, milk, cheese, butter, nuts, and raisins then covered with a brown sugar and cinnamon syrup.
Norwegians celebrate Easter with citrus. Over the holiday weekend they will consume more than 20 million oranges! This custom is believed to have sprung up due to the fact that oranges were only available during the late winter months. They have come to symbolize spring and brighter days ahead. Of course you will also find delicious plates of rakfisk (fermented trout), eggs, and chocolates. Norwegians don’t typically consume lamb for dinner as their long dark winters delay the gestation period of their native sheep and most baby lambs are not large enough to slaughter in time for Easter. Any lamb consumed for the holiday needs to be imported from other countries.
Easter feasts in Poland usually include a hearty bowl of Borscht soup, also known as Easter soup. Borscht is made with onions, potato, egg, and kielbasa (polish sausage). The meal is rounded out with thick slices of delicious Babka (a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeasted dough and filled with nuts, dried fruits, or chocolate).
A popular Easter tradition in Portugal is the gifting of sugar-coated almonds to loved ones. The almond symbolizes the egg, fertility, and the renewal of Spring.
Typically Russians serve red eggs, pashka, and Kulich for Easter. Pashka is a fruit and cream cheese custard served with bread. Kulich is a soft, fluffy, decadent bread that is also traditionally served for Easter in the Ukraine.
Those in Spain tend to celebrate Easter with special doughnuts known as Rosquillas de Semana Santa. What makes these doughnuts special? They are made with fermented flour instead of yeast. Typically they are served dusted with powdered sugar.
One of the most well known Easter traditions in the Ukraine is their incredible and intricately painted eggs known as pysanka. The word pysanka comes from the verb Pysaty which means to write or to inscribe. These eggs are dyed, then molten wax is applied in a pattern, and the eggs are dyed again. The process is repeated until the artist is satisfied. Finally, all of the wax is removed revealing the colors that were covered at each stage and thus revealing the intricate designs and a truly beautiful egg.
In the UK Fat Tuesday is known as Pancake Day and pancakes are served along with fun games and activities such as pancake races (where people run through the streets flipping pancakes in a skillet). On Easter, after fun eggs hunts with the kids, out come the traditional hot cross buns, simnel cake (a type of fruit cake layered with almond paste or marzipan), baked hams, spring lamb, and many more sumptuous dishes.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
US Easter celebrations usually include Easter bunnies, festive baskets of treats and toys, eggs dying, and egg hunts. Typically Americans choose ham for their Easter feasts over just about any other meat. They also tend to serve a delicious coconut cake for dessert.
Happy Easter everyone!
What are your favorite Easter foods? How do you and your loved ones celebrate the holiday?
Let us know in the comments!