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Easter Traditions: Easter Dinner

Thursday, March 17, 2011 @ 10:03 AM Karen Hood

Author: EinPole
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Easter is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole host of traditions. But where do these traditions come from and why do we celebrate Easter with a ham or lamb dinner, decorated eggs, and chocolate bunnies? Let’s begin with a closer look at the main course of a traditional Easter dinner.

In the Jewish tradition, lamb is served during Passover. The Last Supper was Jesus’s final meal with the twelve apostles, and it was held on Passover night. Any meat that Jesus ate at the Last Supper would have been lamb, and so it became traditional for Christians in Europe to eat it at Easter in honor of this. Furthermore, Jesus himself is often referred to as the Lamb of God.

The use of ham at Easter comes from Northern Europe and North America, where lamb has never been an important meat. In the harsh winters of the North, ham was extremely important as a food source because it could be smoked and salted and would keep throughout the winter. In the spring, this preserved pork would be ready to eat at a time when no other fresh meat was available.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series, in which we discuss the symbolism of eggs in the Easter tradition. In the meantime, please enjoy this sample recipe from Karen Hood’s fabulous cookbook Easter Delights. With more than 250 delicious recipes, Easter Delights will make planning for this holiday easy and fun!

Raspberry and Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops

Raspberry-flavored vinegar and minced rosemary
add excellent flavor to these chops.

2 Tbs. raspberry vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8 lamb loin chops


  1. In large, shallow dish whisk together vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, rosemary, oil, and garlic; add lamb chops in single layer, turning to coat well.
  2. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Discard marinade; place chops on greased grill over medium-high heat, and cook about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or to desired doneness.
  4. Transfer to platter; tent with foil, and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

© Karen Jean Matsko Hood 2011

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