Every country has their own traditions, depending on religion, culture, and nature. Christians are about to celebrate Easter, one of their most beloved holidays. And what is the best way to celebrate if not with an amazing menu full of Easter foods? Find out which are the best in the world!
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as the Christ. About 33 percent of the global population is made up of Christians (and that makes Christianity the largest religion in the world), and they celebrate Easter. This year, some of them celebrate it on April 1st (Catholics and Protestants), and some on April 8th (Orthodox Christians).
The countries where the most Christians live are the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Ethiopia, Germany, China, Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Italy.
No matter the country, Easter is the perfect time for those who want to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. For some – and that includes us –, the better way to spend time with their favorite people is to sit at a table with traditional Easter foods, eat, drink, and chat.
Although dyed and decorated hard-boiled eggs are probably the first Easter food to come to anyone’s mind, many other delicacies factor into traditional Easter foods around the world.
Easter foods in 10 countries around the world
1. The United States
In the United States, the main dish on Easter Sunday is the classic Easter ham, often baked with pineapples and cherries on top. Usually, Americans eat it with potatoes and vegetables.
Another favorite recipe is hot cross buns. A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins, marked with a cross on top. It’s originated in the United Kingdom but also traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the British Isles, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and some parts of the Americas.
For Jamaicans, the roasted ham is also the main Easter dish (also cooked for Christmas). Jamaican Christians eat sweet molasses/brown sugar spiced buns and cheese on Easter. The buns, made with spices and raisins, are cut in two and served with slices of cheese, usually Cheddar. They also eat a lot of fish during this season.
In Brazil, eating bacalhau – the Portuguese term for dried and salted codfish – on Good Friday, is almost mandatory. Another traditional food is paçoca, a sweet edible made with crushed nuts (usually peanuts are used), flour, sugar, and salt, blended into a paste and then hardened. This treat is handed out at religious festivals and ceremonies. They also serve Easter ring cake.
Nigerian Easter foods are a mix of goat or chicken dishes, rice sides, and salads. Eating together during Easter is common in Nigeria, and a prayer is said before the feasting begins.
During all their holidays, Ethiopians eat special large bread called dabo. Dabo is a soft, spiced honey-wheat bread that can be found as a large loaf or as smaller buns used as appetizers or served as a dessert. Ethiopians enjoy the sweet dabo warm, as a snack with shai (spiced tea), tallah (beer), or agwat (curd cheese).
6. The United Kingdom
The hot cross bun is an old Easter tradition in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They’re baked with currants or raisins and have a signature cross on the top, usually made with frosting.
The traditional Easter meal in Britain is a rich lunch with dishes like lamb (a simple roast leg of lamb, or a boned leg, stuffed with fresh herbs), side dishes made with spring vegetables, Jersey royal potatoes, a gravy, and a fresh mint sauce for the meat. The dessert is the classic British Easter cake: the simnel cake, which has spices, fruits, and marzipan.
In Germany, the celebration of Easter starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday, with traditional dishes for each day. On Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter), Germans eat green dishes like seven herb soup, while during Good Friday they traditionally eat a fish dinner. The Sunday Easter meal is a family gathering where the main dish is often made of lamb.
Easter is also an important holiday for the French. Since French people take their food seriously, you can imagine that cooking Easter foods is very important. They celebrate Easter ‘en famille’, with big meals, which often take place at ‘grandmere’ (grandmother’s) house. They usually eat egg dishes as starters, like omelets or quiches, followed by roasted or skewered lamb. Many households also cook lamb stew, locally called ‘navarin.’
In Italy, they have two important Easter foods: eggs and lamb. Brodetto Pasquale, a lamb frittata with asparagus, incorporates both of them, being a lamb frittata with asparagus. In Neapolitan cuisine, you’ll find casatiello – a meat-stuffed bread topped with eggs that baked in the shell, right into the dough. Italians also have Taralli di Pasqua, a sweet bread with whole eggs nestled on top.
Minestra maritata or minestra di Pasqua is a traditional Easter soup made with pork, beef, and kale, and it’s commonly served at the holiday meal. Italians eat lamb as the main dish for Easter, and artichokes are a common side dish. As a dessert, they serve colomba di Pasqua, a sweet yeast cake shaped like a dove, and Neapolitan Easter cake, a ricotta cake flavored with orange-flower water.
The Greek Easter feast begins after the midnight church service, but the main event is on Easter Sunday. Greeks are famous for their delicious foods, and the Easter foods don’t make an exception. On every Greek household table, you will find lamb, red dyed eggs, and tsoureki, an orange and spice scented braided bread with a red egg nestled on top.
Cheese pastries — made with phyllo or rolled dough — are served while the lamb is cooking. Other appetizers are olives, feta dip, tzatziki, and rice-stuffed grape leaves (Dolmathakia me kima).
Lamb is often served with roasted potatoes (flavored with lemon and oregano), and spanakopita, a spinach pie with cheese. You will always find salad and bread on the table, too. Their dessert options are abundant: galaktoboureko (a custard pie with phyllo), koulourakia (small butter pastries), butter cookies with sesame seeds, and tsoureki (a braided brioche-like sweet bread), which is served not only in Greece, but also in Bulgaria (kozunak), Romania (cozonac), and Turkey (çörek).
Other countries with special Easter foods
Easter is preceded by a time of fasting during Great Lent when many animal products are forbidden in most Christian countries. That’s why Christians from around the world celebrate this holiday by making all kind of delicious foods.
Russians make Paskha (a pyramid-shaped cheese dessert made with farmers cheese, eggs, butter, raisins, and almonds), Kulich (an Easter bread baked in a tall, cylindrical tin, then topped with white icing, which you can also find in Eastern European countries like Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia), ham or lamb dishes, and a condiment made with grated horseradish and red beets (also eaten in Poland). Russians have another quirky tradition for Easter: they keep a lamb-shaped butter piece on their table. The butter sculpture is also a favorite during Easter in Slovenia and Poland.
During Easter, Finnish people eat mämmi, a soft and chilled bread flavored with molasses and orange zest and served with milk or cream. Mämmi is a long-standing tradition in the area and is included in many other Easter dishes as well.
Argentine and Uruguayan families like to eat torta pascualina, a savory pie made with spinach, ricotta, and whole eggs that cook as the pie is baked.
After researching all these Easter foods from around the world, I just want this holiday to come faster. I’ll definitely eat lamb, spring vegetables, and ‘cozonac’!