The Easter holiday may conjure up images of bunnies, woven-straw baskets and chocolate egg hunts, but there are many more ways this springtime holiday is celebrated around the world, from long-standing ancient rituals to contemporary customs. An important religious holiday for some, while simply an excuse to nibble on chocolate bunny ears for others—Easter traditions have evolved and been adapted and reinterpreted by different cultures for centuries.
With the holiday fast approaching, we are drawing inspiration from the most delicious of these customs to make Easter a memorable occasion in our restaurants, whether it is the Greek-style spit-roasted lamb at Artemis & Apollo; traditional Italian Easter eats at Osteria Marzia; or the pastel-hued Easter Basket Carrot Cake at our American-style bakery, Butter. While our culinary team prepares for the all-important weekend of fellowship and feasting, we are taking a look at the many unique ways Easter is celebrated around the world, both in and outside of the kitchen. Perhaps a few of these will inspire you to kick-start a new holiday tradition this long weekend.
A High-flying Holiday in Bermuda
With its aquamarine waves and pink sands, Bermuda is a pastel painting brushed with springtime colours this time of year—all the better for Easter rituals that encourage exploring the great outdoors. On Good Friday, the sky above Horseshoe Bay Beach transforms into a colourful mosaic of hexagonal shapes during the annual ‘KiteFest’—the flight of the handcrafted kites symbolising the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Constructed from flat sticks arranged to mimic the spokes of a wheel, the kites feature long tails and some even emit a humming noise—a sound that has now become synonymous with Easter holidays on the tropical island.
Crime and Mystery in Norway
Born out of a front page newspaper ad promoting a crime novel in 1923—a misunderstanding which was interpreted by the public as actual news—Norwegians’ penchant for reading crime novels during the Easter weekend is certainly one of the more unusual traditions on this list. Far from cute bunnies and saccharine treats, Norwegians are known to celebrate the Easter holidays by curling up with a grisly crime novel or watching a whodunnit on television—a typical apres-ski family activity to punctuate the Easter long weekend.
Australian Bilbies, Not Bunnies
If you happen to be travelling down under during the Easter holidays, you will likely find pointy-nosed, rabbit-eared chocolate bilbies stacked across supermarket candy shelves, replacing the cute commercialised bunnies that Americans have long associated with Easter. These long-snouted bandicoots have staked their claim as the true mascot of Australian Easter celebrations, helped in no small part by a 1991 campaign by the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia aiming to replace the ‘Easter bunny’ with a symbol of native wildlife.
Lamb Stars at The Greek Table
Lamb is an essential ingredient in the Greek culinary canon, and with the sacrificial lamb holding significant religious meaning in Easter’s spiritual origins—you can trust the Greeks to do justice to this mouth-watering holiday centrepiece. Whether slow-roasted in a flavourful herb marinade or spit-roasted and skewered souvlaki-style, roast lamb will most certainly be the star attraction at any Greek Easter table, alongside a medley of other meat-based recipes, red hard-boiled eggs symbolising Christ’s blood, and braided tsoureki, commonly known as “Easter bread” to represent the Holy Trinity.
Buns the British Way
Hot cross buns are soft, yeasty pockets of pastry perfection that pop up particularly around Easter time—a British tradition that has long been a fixture at many a holiday table. Spiced and crossed with an ‘X’, the history behind the hot cross bun tradition is far-ranging and steeped in folklore, with some associating the cross with Christ’s crucifixion, while others believe the buns—typically baked on Good Friday—expel bad spirits or hold special medicinal properties. Whether you buy into the superstitions or not, these sweet, spiced buns are well worth “one a penny”, as the popular British nursery rhyme goes.
Hoods and Holy Days in Spain
Known as Semana Santa, or Holy Week, Easter celebrations in Spain last for a full seven days, during which elaborate celebrations and processions take place across the main thoroughfares of towns and major cities. As with many other holidays throughout the year, residents enthusiastically don full costumes and hooded robes, carrying an assortment of religious symbols and playing loud music to enliven the proceedings. As for typical food during Easter, expect to find torrijas, a variation on French toast soaked in sugar and spices; and rosquillas de Semana Santa, dense doughnut-like confections dipped in a variety of flavoured icings.
A Slice of Springtime in Naples
A beloved tart gracing the table of Italian Easters, the pastiera Napoletana can be savoured for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea on Easter Sunday, and is traditionally made on Good Friday to let the flavours slowly seep through the pie. The Neapolitan specialty is made with ricotta and rice or cooked grain and features a lattice crust for festive flair. Perfumed with spices and scents, which can range from cinnamon to orange blossom, lemon and vanilla—the baked tart is a springtime ritual in Naples that has since become a firm favourite throughout Italy.
Ready to feast this Easter? Head to Osteria Marzia for a taste of Chef Luca’s homemade pastiera Napoletana; pre-order an herb-stuffed roasted lamb saddle at Associazione Chianti; or enjoy a ceremonious three-course Easter brunch starring prime rib at Buenos Aires Polo Club.