This year Easter falls on March 31. Thoughts of decorated Easter eggs and hunts, the Easter Bunny, and preparations for Holy Week will consume the next couple of weeks. This is how Easter is celebrated in the United States, but other countries celebrate differently. This cook column is going to look at some of the Easter customs from around the world.
Some of the customs in England include a Pancake Race on Shrover Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). Participants run down the road tossing and trying not to drop their pancake from a turner. This has been a tradition for over 500 years. Pussy Willow Branches are picked and are used to tap others on the back to bring them good luck. Easter dinner includes ham, a custom that was also started hundreds of years ago.
In France, raw eggs are rolled down a gentle slope, the egg that makes it down without breaking wins, and symbolizes the rolling back of the stone from the tomb. The bells in France do not ring from Maundy Thursday through Easter Saturday. The children are told that the bells go to Rome during that time to fetch them their eggs. Joyeuses Pâques is Happy Easter in French.
The Germans cover the cross on Good Friday and eat dishes that contain fish that day. Mass starts Saturday night and continues to Easter Sunday morning. Old Christmas Trees are gathered and burned in a special place in an Easter Fire to clean away the last signs of winter and move onto spring. In the village of Oberammergau a “Passion Play” is produced every 10 years. The entire village participates. In 1633, the Black Death or Plague threatened to annihilate the village. The religious leaders promised to perform a play praising God every 10 years if he would spare their village. The village was saved and the plays have gone on every 10 years since. Happy Easter is Fröhlich Ostern in German.
People in Ireland dance in the street on Easter Sunday competing for the prize of a cake. Good Friday is an extremely solemn day in Ireland. People eat nothing till midday and walk barefooted. No important enterprise is undertaken; no butchering, construction, burning, or moving from one residence to another. Eggs that are laid on Good Friday are marked with a cross and everyone eats one on Easter Sunday. Easter Saturday, hundreds of small candles are lit from a Paschal candle that has been blessed by the priest.
The Easter Break in Norway starts the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday and doesn’t end until the Tuesday after Easter. Norway has an unusual custom of solving crimes during Easter. Publishers turn out a number of thrillers during this time and even the milk cartons change to feature murder mysteries on them. Children in Norway play the “Tap the Egg” or “Egg Knocking” game. Everyone chooses an egg and the participants pair up. They tap their eggs on their partner’s until one cracks. The one that cracks is out and the winner then goes and challenges other winners until there is only one left. Norwegian for Happy Easter is God Påske.
In Sweden, many people believe that witches practice their black magic more during Holy Week. It was thought that the witches flew off on their brooms on Maundy Thursday to consort with the devil at a place called blåkulla, returning the following Saturday. On Maundy Thursday, boys and girls dress up as hags and pay visits to neighbors. Some make “Easter Letters” hoping for a sweet or coin in return. Some “Easter Letters” are slipped in mailboxes or under doors to keep the sender a secret. Glad Påsk is Happy Easter in Swedish.
Easter in Mexico is a combination of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Pascua which is Resurrection Sunday until the following Saturday. Many communities enact a full “Passion Play” taking up to a year of preparation for the spectacular staging, costuming, and acting. Parades are held each day of the last week of Lent. On Good Friday, the parade starts early in the morning and winds through the dark streets. Sad songs are sung and the bells ring slowly. Happy Easter in Spanish is Felices Pascuas.
How To Hard Boil Eggs
Place eggs in a pot and add water until the water is about 1 inch over the eggs. Put the pan on the stove and set to high heat. When the eggs come to a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Let stand for 14-17 minutes (longer for larger eggs). Pour hot water off eggs and cover them with cold water. Take eggs out and crack on counter and return to the water. Let the eggs sit for about an hour. The water will slip under the shell and it will slip right off. This process produces yolks that are bright yellow and eggs that are easy to peal.
Roasted Easter Ham
5 pound bone-in ham
1/3 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the ham and pat dry with paper towels.
Place the ham in a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, maple syrup, brown sugar and onion powder. Coat the ham entirely with the glaze using a spoon or brush.
Roast the ham uncovered for 2 hours in the preheated oven, or until heated through. Let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving to keep it from drying out.
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon
(2) 1/4 ounce packages active
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted
butter, at room temperature,
plus extra for serving
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons confectioners’
sugar, for dusting
Stir together water and 1 tsp. sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Butter and flour a 10-cup Kugelhopf or Bundt pan.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar on low speed for about 30 seconds, then increase to medium high and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each. (Mixture will look curdled.) Beat in lemon peel, salt and vanilla. Add yeast mixture; gradually add 2 cups flour. Beat on medium, scraping bowl, until smooth, 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour; beat until dough is elastic. Stir in raisins.
Butter a bowl. Transfer dough to it, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Punch dough down and stir in almonds. Transfer dough to prepared pan, cover with a towel and let rise until dough is within 1/2 inch of top of mold, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 475°F. Bake Kugelhopf until golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 30 minutes. Let Kugelhopf cool for 5 minutes, then turn out of pan onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; slice with a serrated knife; serve with butter. (All You, March 2006)
Hot Cross Buns
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour,
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 ounce envelope rapid-rise
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up
2 large eggs
Vegetable cooking spray
2/3 cup currants
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Combine 2-1/2 cups flour, sugar, and next 4 ingredients in the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, stirring well. Set aside.
Combine milk, 1/4 cup water, and butter pieces in a saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until butter melts. Cool 5 minutes to 130°.
Pour milk mixture into flour mixture, and beat at low speed with dough hook attachment 2 minutes or until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat 3 more minutes. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in enough remaining flour (up to 2-1/2 cups) to make a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Beat at medium speed with dough hook attachment 5 minutes.
Scrape dough into a large bowl coated with cooking spray, and lightly spray the top of the dough.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour. Dough will almost double in bulk.
Punch dough down, and turn out onto a floured surface. Combine 2/3 cup currants, 1/3 cup raisins, and 1 tbsp. flour, stirring to coat. Knead about one-fourth of fruit mixture at a time into dough until all fruit mixture is evenly dispersed.
Divide dough into 20 equal portions; shape each portion into a 2-inch ball. Evenly space dough balls on a parchment paper-lined 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan; cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Gently brush tops with beaten egg white.
Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until buns are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cool buns 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
Hint of Lemon Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients until smooth.
Spoon icing into a zip-top plastic freezer bag; snip a 1/4-inch piece from corner of bag, and pipe an “X” on top of warm buns, forming a cross. Serve remaining icing with buns, if desired.
Southern Living, April 2006
Braided Easter Egg Bread
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour,
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 ounce package active dry
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
5 whole eggs, dyed if desired
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1-1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden.
*Hint: Do not cook the whole eggs, as they will bake at the same time that the bread does. The eggs can also be dyed for extra color.
Easter Brunch Casserole
allrecipes.com, Lisa D.
1 pound bacon
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped garlic
(2) 4-1/2 ounce cans diced green
chili peppers, divided
2 dashes liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
(such as Cholula®)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (such
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 pounds frozen hash brown
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded pepper Jack
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 ounce can chopped black
Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Place sausage into the bacon grease, and cook until crumbly and brown, about 10 minutes. Place the sausage on the plate with the bacon, and pour off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon drippings.
Reduce heat to medium, and stir in the onion, garlic, and one can of green chilies. Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl with the liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce, seasoned salt, white pepper, parsley, and basil until smooth. Crumble the bacon, and stir bacon and sausage into the eggs with the remaining can of green chilies, hash browns, and cooked onions. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and stir until evenly mixed.
Prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Scoop the hash brown mixture into the prepared dish, and smooth the top. Cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the covered dish in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Remove the casserole from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle evenly with pepper jack and monterey jack cheeses. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese in the shape of a cross, and outline with the black olives. Return to the oven, and bake until the cheese is hot and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes more.
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