Easter, customs, food and you!

It is a beautiful custom today to bring special foods to church for the priest’s blessings before Easter. Back at my home parish in my native place, people would bring things and, lined up at the Communion rail, we would go along with our Rituale Romanum and bless all sorts of good looking, appetizing stuff. People of different ethnic backgrounds had their favorite things, of course.

Today in the New York Post there is an article about different traditional foods for Easter from around the world.

Do you have any special customs for Easter?

In the meantime, remember this?

No matter what, you need lots of

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Pizza piena (an Italian meat, egg, & cheeses pie) from a recipe dating back at least to Angela’s Neapolitan grandma. Only made on Holy Saturday and only eaten during Easter week.

  2. Suzanne Carl says:

    Beef brisket! Slow smoked and roasted until the fat cap makes the whole thing juicy and tender. Served along side of ham, ridiculous numbers of appetizers, sides, and at least 4 desserts. Buns for the meats to make sandwiches. We like finger foods because when the 50 or so family members (just those in town) get together, we don’t have enough room for a sit-down meal. Generally, the day includes dancing and the egg hunt. After abstaining from alcohol for all of lent, single malt scotch and martinis are on the menu for those who like them. Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

  3. APX says:

    My dad has an old Hungarian custom for Good Friday. He makes kocsonyas (jellied pig feet), which he insists is a Hungarian Delicacy. Every Good Friday he makes up a large batch to eat on Easter Sunday.

  4. mamajen says:

    Butter lamb! I went to college in Buffalo and they are still popular there.

    We usually have a ham dinner, and that’s what we’ll be doing this year at my parents’. I prefer to eat lamb, but it’s pricey. This year I am planning to make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Hopefully they work out. Yeast doughs and I have a contentious history.

    I am counting down the minutes until I can have coffee again! That was one of the things I gave up for Lent, and it’s been a challenge.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Lamb, dolmathas, spanikopita, baklava, fruit cake with marzipan frosting, Italian Easter bread, white lamb cake, green beans, roast potatoes, Greek salad, matzos, champagne, spatlese, auslese and port.

    But, as I am now itinerant, I take what is given to me wherever God allows me to be…I do miss cooking.

  6. majuscule says:

    Portuguese Easter Bread! Sweat and eggy, toasted and slathered with butter.

    My great grandmother from the Azores would shape the dough into a flat oval and place an egg for each family member on it. These would be held in by strips of dough forming crosses. When the bread rose and was baked, the eggs would be peeking out.

    But I just bake it in a loaf shape to make it easy to slice for toast. Going to go have some now!

  7. benedetta says:

    Every year on this day for the last several years I recall how after he was permitted to leave the gulag, Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ, Servant of God, was occupied for a great portion of this day every year blessing the great numbers of baskets of food that appeared in his tiny makeshift chapel where he slept in a shanty town in Siberia, under close watch of the party apparatchiks of course. Amazing that hand in hand, the people with their priest in their utter poverty and under constant threat of arrest for open practice of their faith, nonetheless prepared for, scraped and salvaged and saved for, baked wonderful breads, and exuberantly celebrated, with great tenderness and love and peace the holy sacraments of the Tridduum. I will be thinking of the kind and humble faith of Fr. Ciszek, and the people who clamored for the sacraments under great adversity, when I welcome the light that darkness could not overcome when I hear the Exultet tonight.

    I too will be following family and ancestral tradition tomorrow by preparing lamb for my family to enjoy with broccoli rage after the Mass of Easter tomorrow.

  8. benedetta says:

    Broccoli rabe lol

  9. acardnal says:

    Supertradmum, good to see you online again. Have a happy Easter.

    I worked in Greece for three yrs. Those food items you mentioned look sumptuous. The only way I eat lamb is the Greek way: roasted over a charcoal spit outdoors marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and oregano.

  10. Bea says:

    Don’t remember food from long past. (except for the Easter baskets with candy and toys)
    but i do remember
    We always had to have a new spring wardrobe complete with Easter bonnets.

  11. When I was growing up my parents always gave us kiddos a new Easter outfit…girls got a new dress or skirt and boys got a new tie or dress shirt.

    Food–ham on Easter Sunday is typical in our family. We usually have a big-ish get together after Mass. This year I am contributing two pies and deviled eggs. Needed to keep it simple–hubby and I are wiped after hours of singing this week (two days of Tenebrae, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil tonight and High Mass tomorrow…!).

  12. GeekLady says:

    It’s very funny, I just put up a whole post of our ideal Holy Week traditions, although we usually don’t get to everything what with two little kids and work and life interfering. This year Himself came home with gastroenteritis on Holy Thursday! So none of that evening worked out.

    For Easter dinner, we have a roast leg of lamb, roasted potatoes and cippolini onions, broiled asparagus, Bread of Easter Brightness, red eggs, spanakopita, fresh bread, Baptism cake (baked in a lamb mold), lemon ricotta pie, Greek Easter cookies, & fresh fruit.

    I want a butter lamb mold very badly, but haven’t found one yet.

  13. Andreas says:

    Here in the Tirol there is Spinat Palatshinken (large thin pancakes rolled and filled with spinach) with a sunny side up egg atop on Grundonnerstag (Maundy Thursday) for all who built the ‘Holy Tomb’ (Heilige Grab…http://ausserferner.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/karfreitag/) in our Church of St. Ulrich. Freshly brewed dark beer and white sausages (Weisswurst), hard boiled eggs, Ham and Easter cakes in the form of the Holy Lamb are in abundance during the weeks to come. Wishing you all a most Blessed and Joyous Easter from Austria!

  14. Woody79 says:

    @ Suzanne–Can I come over to your house to eat?!
    @ APX–Oh my, my maternal grandfather’s favorite dish. The only Hungarian word I can remember!

    All the food everyone has described sounds fantastic. Father Z and everyone, have a Blessed and Happy Easter Day and week.

  15. iepuras says:

    Now that I am finally being baptized tonight, we are doing Easter right, Romanian style. Leg of lamb, sarmale (stuffed grape leaves), cozonac (Romanian holiday bread only made for Easter and Christmas). This American will be contributing deviled eggs, which I am making for the first time.

  16. JonPatrick says:

    We usually have Ham, although I am tempted to make lamb sometime if I can get a good cut without taking out a bank loan, potatoes both roasted with rosemary and garlic, plus mashed, turnip, peas, dessert is English Trifle in honor of my British ancestry, a little different recipe this year I got off the internet, with the substitution of the required Bird’s Custard in place of Vanilla Pudding. I might have gone a little heavy with the Cognac, as I usually do :)

  17. ByzCath08 says:

    Pascha bread, butter lamb, cheese, meat and wine which we haven’t tasted in 7 weeks!

  18. yatzer says:

    I used to be able to buy a butter lamb at Meijer or Aldi, but haven’t seen them this year, alas. I do have a semi-boneless leg of lamb that I got on sale on the off-season and put in the deep freeze, thus avoiding having to take the bank loan.

  19. Ray says:

    Recipe is from about 45 miles outside of Napoli. It contains cooked rice, eggs, Mayrose hard salami(Grandma used Italian Salami for everything else but not this dish), Pecorino Romano Cheese and pepper. Mix all and bake until brown around the edges. On the top she placed slices of bacon in the shape of a cross before going into the oven. Mainly for Easter but everyone loves it so much we make it 2 or 3 times a year. Easter breakfast it is a must around all my families homes. Grandma called it Rice Ring or Rice Pizza.

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    Supertradmum, I have been praying for you. I hope you were able to get to a Good Friday service. I wish you lived nearby, because I would invite you to dinner (and, of course, you would have to cook it).

    My family, growing up, never had much in the way of Easter food traditions (there are only so many varieties of chicken feed, after all). I have been on my own for so long that anything after Mass is really just an extra for the day. Be glad that most of you have families to be with. That is more important than the food, by a long shot. It is not that I don’t have family, but we are scattered all over. Well, the early Christians knew about that, as well.

    Are there any ways to post pictures of food, so that I may, appropriately, drool? I used to cook, but I had to throw away my pots and pans a few years ago because of mold and I I just never bought another set because it became really nice not to have to clean the stove. Now, I cook by cavity magnetron-induced microwave bombardment of protein complexes (I plop things in the microwave and push a button).

    The Chicken

  21. Sconnius says:

    Easter has always been my favorite holiday meal, since Thanksgiving and Christmas fall during wrestling season. We eat either lamb or ham, but always potato dumplings, red cabbage, tortes or black forest cake, Osterlamm, and homemade wine. This year the Maibock will also be ready!

  22. Nan says:

    We used to have ham with all the trimmings, including sweet potatoes with marshmallows atop. I don’t know who ate them so am uncertain why we had them. Grandma made potica. Now I make reservations as I live in a place that isn’t wheelchair accessible so my mom can’t visit.

    @masked fowl, I had no idea chickens could use microwaves.

  23. chantgirl says:

    Unfortunately, my family’s European food traditions were forgotten in the last few generations, so I am looking to reclaim them. Any ideas for a German/Irish/Scottish girl for Easter food? I’m guessing beer and potatoes have to figure into this somehow.

  24. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    mamajen: one thing, Lent is over. there are other goods reasons to give up coffee today, but it being Lent isn’t one of them. :) best, edp.

  25. mamajen says:

    Dr. Peters,

    Wow, I did not know that! Always thought I had to wait until Easter Sunday, or at least the vigil. Thanks for enlightening me :)

  26. The Masked Chicken says:

    “@masked fowl, I had no idea chickens could use microwaves.”

    Yes, its one of my superpowers.

    Mighty of beak;
    strong of wing;
    able to spell multi-syllable words mostly correctly;
    able to distinguish apples from pears;


    The Masked Chicken

    Strange (really strange) visitor from another coop with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary chickens. Yes, its TMC, able to leap to tall conclusions in a single bound, bend steel in his mighty beak, change the course of spilled coffee. TMC, who, in his/her/its disguise as Cluck Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a not-so-great non-existent newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for fruit, Jello, and the microwave.

    The Chicken

  27. Florida Observer says:

    Arroz con gandules.

    Translation: Rice with pigeon peas. And ham, of course.

  28. Tom in NY says:

    For me, special Easter foods would include not only candy and ham, but poteca and butter lambs. Perhaps I still have time to search for the latter. For those still eating pastry, there’s still time to make poteca with walnut filling, but not much. You’ll need time for the dough to rise. Recipes are on the ‘net.
    A blessed Easter to all.

  29. Ah yes, the famous buttered lamb (which my family did include in the food to be blessed)..

    Every year, my father (since he has Polish ethnicity) makes homemade kielbasa for the family and some friends in our parish family. It’s really tasty and he makes extra to freeze and have a few times throughout the year. Here, where I am in the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, my parish priest blesses the Easter baskets that parishioners bring in every year. In the Easter basket to be blessed this year, we added decorated eggs, ham, bagels, rye bread, strawberries, wine, and some of the homemade kielbasa.

  30. Sonshine135 says:

    Today, I cooked raw kielbasa and cooked up two rings of it. I had white, hardboiled eggs, beet horseradish, babka, sea salt, and corse ground black pepper. I packed them in a basket and had them blessed at my church. Our Permanent Deacon and his wife are Polish, and Deacon did the blessings.

    Interestingly enough, I saw two men mopping the marble and cleaning the altar up. A second look revealed it was two of our Priests. I hadn’t recognized them, because they were out of their regular garb. What a humbling experience.

  31. mikeinmo says:

    Carrying on the Eastern European tradition that my grandmothers brought with them to the U.S. in the early part of the 2oth century:

    –Yayechnik (Easter Cheese) made with eggs and milk.
    –Ham and Polish Sausage
    –Deviled Eggs
    –Beet Horseradish
    –Pascha (Easter Bread) made from the whey left over from the Easter Cheese

    The risen Christ is our “Pascha” in the Eastern Liturgy. I belong to the Latin Rite, but occasionally attend the Divine Liturgy in St. Louis for St. Nicholas Day (of course, food and drink and fun follow after we pray.)

    Also added some non-Easter items because we like them so much–Deer Sausage and Cabbage Casserole (Same ingredients as Filled Cabbage).

    Radostna Vel’ka noc

  32. Mariana2 says:

    “Cluck Kent”

    : ) !

    Just made the Pascha (NOT Scandinavian, but borrowed from the Greek Orthodox) and put it in the fridge to drip!

  33. Paulo says:

    In my family, there are so many traditions mixed up, that I cannot pinpoint one specific dish that epitomizes “Easter”. It was, rather, the gathering at my grandmother’s house that was the high point. I do recall that roasted chicken was a common dish (sorry Masked, but some of your kin tasted delicious!), and grandma used to make – although not always – a Portuguese octopus rice, which my late father liked! Interestingly, my wife inherited some traditions from her nanny, who was Greek Orthodox – and we experimented with Pascha a few times. A former student of mine, who’s Russian, eventually taught us how to fine tune it. Finally, this year I will be roasting a leg of Lamb, Greek style, pretty much like Acardnal describes.

    But , in any case, I wish you all a blessed Easter; although I do not post often here, I am an avid reader of the blog and of the comments, and I love you all! God bless you, Father Z!

  34. Supertradmum says:

    iepuras, Congratulations and welcome aboard!

    Masked C., I am always ready to cook!

  35. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I (we) used to have traditions many decades ago, nearly all of them tied up with the sacred liturgy. They all disappeared rather suddenly in the 1960s and early 70s and in the intervening half century I (we) have not been able to recover them, since no one really remembers what they were. They have gone the way of all traditions.

  36. djc says:

    After mass we have a baked Ham, Cheddar Cheese and Sausage casserole, German Potato Salad, Asparagus, Deviled Eggs, assorted salads and a homemade Apple Pie for dessert. My in-laws and our daughter and her boyfriend (maybe an engagement coming down the road…..hoping, hoping) will be here so its only a party of 6. But we’re so glad our daughter ,whose in her 20’s, and her boyfriend, are regular mass goers. This means a lot to us.


  37. pannw says:

    I wish we could all have a huge party so I could try all these yummy sounding foods!!!

    When my husband is in town and we stay at home, I make rack of lamb with a nice mustard and herbed breadcrumb coating. My son loves them. They are his favorite food I make, and says they are like meat lolly pops. Growing up, we always had ham, and as the kids and I will be going to spend the day with my parents and two of my sisters and one of their families, we will have ham. I am charged with making the traditional macaroni salad and relish tray.

    I had planned to start a new tradition this year. I wanted to make Hot Cross Buns, so I spent about three hours candying some orange peel to put in them a couple of days ago. As they were laying on some wax paper in the middle of the table to dry, one of my dogs apparently climbed onto the table and ate all of the peel. ARGHHHH…. A very bad dog. She’s lucky we aren’t having her for supper! I’ll try again next year.

    A very blessed and happy Easter to all.

    Deo gratias.

  38. Bea says:

    Ah, masked chicken, I know how you feel.
    Since all my “little ones” are grown and gone and my husband doesn’t care what we eat (as long as I don’t dirty too many dishes) my joy of cooking days are over. I can’t imagine me today cooking up a 5/7 course meal like I used to. We usually eat out on the BIG Holidays (Holy Days).

    Think of all these holy priests away from home. I hope they all get invited into someone’s home. God Bless them and all the work they do for us in leading us to heaven (at least trying to, if we’re not stubborn) every day of the year.

  39. AV8R61 says:

    My wife is Romanian and she makes Easter eggs colored with boiled purple onion skins, and leaves and flower petals held to the shells with old nylons. They leave their design on the shell. The custom is for two people to each take an egg. One says “Kristos inviat!” (Christ is risen!) The other says “Adaverat inviat!”(Truly He is risen) as you crack your eggs against each other.
    She also makes a cheese pie called Pasca.

  40. Deus Vult says:

    I’m just happy I can go to Mass, as at Christmas my mom decided to go skiing rather than take me to Mass.

    She will probably make chicken. Also, I’m sure Masked won’t mind their deaths too much, as they became part of the “evolutionary now” at the last LCWR conference.

    Also, Easter Egg hunt around the house will be fun.

  41. RafqasRoad says:

    This is my third Easter as a Catholic (having been received into Catholic Christianity via the Marounite Rite of the Church back in October 2011.

    I have fond memories from my Anglican childhood (low church ‘Sydney Anglican’ of boiled eggs for breakfast before church, followed by lunch at my Aunt and Uncle’s where we’d have (I know it sounds strange) ham and turkey with baked vegetables (Good old fashioned Aussie baked dinner) with my late mother’s wonderful pikelets for dessert, made the day before or early that morning and eaten cold with butter; delicious!! She’d make two or three dozen and there’d be absolutely none left by late afternoon!

    Through the SDA years from the age of 13 to 35, Easter was not celebrated – a sparce thing indeed. Transitioning back into Anglicanism after marrying in 2005, I have enjoyed my husband’s family’s hospitality – seafood, lamb, beef, Potato gratin or other method of baked veg and one of my SIL’s ‘Russian Fruit Cheese’ (she’s of Slovenian origins).

    It is Easter Sunday evening here, and our meal today with my husband’s family included a wonderful Anti Pasto plate with cheeses, preserved meats (Salami, Prociutto, Koppa etc), olives and pickles, followed by a melt in the mouth butter soft barbecued eye fillet of beef topped with garlic butter freshly made accompanied by roast baked potato, pumpkin and kumera, along with French beans. Dessert was a fantastic chocolate sponge roulade cake with cream and fresh raspeberries; a very very good selection of wines and beers also!! Pray that this wonderful family comes back to Holy Mother Church!

    I hope to commence celebrating Easter here at home with a traditional Aussie Lamb baked dinner next year with all the trimmings and my late mother’s pikelet recipe plus her Apple crumble with custard recipes .

    STM, If you were around here (The south of my state in Aus) I’d be happy to bake you a wonderful butterflied leg of lamb with lemon, garlic, olive oil, thyme and parsley, along with garlic potatoes and my own (and I think, very good) Spanikopita. I’ve only made stuffed vineleaves once but would be happy to make a batch with you.

    Just a thought, I’d be in my element if I could cook for and open up our home for the alone folk during Easter and Christmas, other holy days and even weekdays from our local Catholic community and wider community; aloneness is a difficult cross to bear this time of year and we’d even make room for super-avien masked fowl – at table, not in the cooking pot!! Though I think the chicken would be happy here; we’ve a number of fine hens resident in the back yard of our back neighbours one house over to our left, so good company for chickenkind would be close at hand…more seriously though, all of this wonderful talk of Easter food traditions makes my heart heavy for the alone ones among us.

    ’twas a fantastic Easter service this morning also; our church school hall used as the church proper couldn’t even begin to hold the numbers – with reverence, wonderful hymns, a fantastic homily, bells, incence – yes clouds and clouds of incence, and all-round fantastic liturgy, as have been all the masses this Triduum – Awesome!! They might not use incence much during the week or even Sundays, but it was ‘purple haze’ these past days making up for its absence at other masses!! and my sincere thanks go out to Fr. D., our young priest who led things, along with the equally amazing Deacon P.!! THANK YOU for delivering the most reverend NO services I’ve attended for a long time!!



  42. Netmilsmom says:

    My butter lamb almost looks like that. Seems I can never get the butter down in the mold without an air bubble. He’s always a bit lopsided.
    Anyway, we went to Assumption Grotto for our food blessing. It was intense. Now since you have brought up the blessing of Holy water, we paid more attention to the blessing. We drove to Grotto and realized that we have had the “nice” blessing up until this year!

  43. OrthodoxChick says:

    Even though I’m 1/2 Irish & 1/2 Italian, our Easter dinner traditions were always more in line with the typical New England yankee fare. Ham, Yorkshire pudding and popover rolls, acorn squash, turnip, & parsnip (still available as the chill of winter wanes). Lots of corn meal involved with hot Johnny cakes dripping in maple syrup and corn fritters dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Also candied carrots. We always went Italian for the desserts though. It just isn’t Easter without a ricotta pie and a rice pie!

  44. gretta says:

    Thank you folks for sharing the Easter tradition of the butter lamb! I’d never seen it before, but after doing a Youtube search there are nice ladies who show you how to make one. I think this may be a new family tradition, along with the real lamb done Greek style. Wish there was a way to post butter lamb pictures, it would be great to see what they look like! He has risen indeed – Happy Easter all!

  45. militantCatholicmom says:

    We have pierogi, kielbasa with sauerkraut, pickled beets, peas, hard boiled eggs, and Easter egg bread. Grew up near Buffalo and used to get the butter lamb, too.

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