Symbolism of Easter Foods

Misty Brown | 4/1/2009, 4:55 p.m.

Have you ever wondered about the symbolism of Easter foods? Originally, Easter was a Northern hemisphere pagan observance of spring and fertility. Today, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On April 12, you can acknowledge your favorite foods origins.

Historians have identified that serving specific foods foster community building and establishing family rituals. €Easter foods are primarily those of Easter Sunday, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, a day of special rejoicing for Christians, who rejoice too at reaching the end of the long Lenten fast. The concept of renewal/rebirth is responsible for the important role played by the €egg€ in Easter celebrations. There are also special foods associated with the other days in the Easter calendar

In Europe, there is a general tradition, not confined to Christians, that €Easter is the time to start eating the season€s new lambs, which is just coming onto the market then,€ wrote Alan Davidson in €Oxford Companion to Food€, published by Oxford University Press.

EASTER EGGS: In early Christian eras, eggs were forbidden by the church, during Lent. Thus, it became a desirable delicacy. Historically, the eggshell embodies the tomb from the risen Christ and the inner contents personify the resurrection. Greeks colored their eggs as representation of the blood of Christ.

Traditionally, Easter eggs were painted in dazzling colors or etched with intricate designs to represent spring and used in Easter-egg rolling contests. However, they were given as gifts to romantic admirers or exchanged by lovers or as an emblem of friendship, much the same as valentines during the festivals of spring equinox. In Eastern European cultures, every pencil marking in the pattern has a symbolic meaning and some brought the baskets to the church to be blessed on Holy Saturday.

EASTER BUNNY: The rabbit or hare is a representation of fertility and new life. During the early 1800s in Germany, the first edible bunny was made of pastry and sugar. The German immigrants introduced this custom to America. The Pennsylvania Dutch imported the €Oschter Haws€ or €Easter Hare,€ who delivered colored eggs to good children. The villagers had egg-eating contests and played different games.

FISH: For centuries, it is customary to eat fish on Good Friday to give homage to Christ sacrifice on the cross.

LAMB: Jesus Christ is rejoiced as the €Lamb of God€ and serving lamb is extremely symbolic of our Lord and Savior. Matthews 25:31-33€"€When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.€

(Bibliography: The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity; American Egg Board; The Chicken Book and The Encyclopedia of Religion.)