There are countless ways to celebrate Easter. In fact, the way every family does it is so unique and personal that no two homes on Easter Sunday look alike. In my own family, we actually follow some Polish traditions. We serve both fresh ham and smoked ham, kielbasa, and pierogies, along with red horseradish, rye bread, sour pickles, and homemade potato and macaroni salads. The pound of butter that we use is expertly molded into a large egg, and my grandmother takes it, along with the salt, hardboiled eggs, and other food to the church to be blessed by the priest. One of the blessed eggs is cut into several pieces and passed around from one family member to the next. We go in birth order, starting with the oldest person at the gathering, and ending with whatever little one has been welcomed into the family most recently. My grandmother is the one who passes the egg around, giving each person a kiss and a blessing.
The Easter Bunny also comes for the kids in the family. He inevitably brings chocolate eggs, and a large chocolate bunny from the same local candy store every year. The chocolatier who has been stocking our Easters for over four decades knows us by name and is as much a part of our holiday as the blessed eggs.
That is my Easter, but it differs so greatly from other Americans who celebrate, and it certainly differs from what other cultures do around the world. I looked into wonderful international Easter traditions and found some to share below. Enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday!
These first three are very similar, but different enough to share each one. The beautifully painted eggs are usually first emptied of the yolk and egg white through a tiny hole that is pierced into the bottom. Then the real craftsmanship begins.
1. Eastern European Easter Eggs
Cascarones are brightly dyed eggshells (also voided of the insides) that are then filled with colorful confetti. Kids can participate in this tradition and create simple ones, but it is also possible to find elaborate cascarones that have been created by artists.
3. Serbian Easter Bread
This beautiful bread requires a little time and love on the part of the baker. Yogurt and warm milk make this recipe different from most breads that you’ve probably had. But since it is definitely more of a bread than a cake, using yeast (and waiting for the dough to rise) is a part of the process. But the effort is well worth it.
4. Italian Sweet Ricotta Easter Pie
While I have some Polish roots, I am mostly Italian, and so this recipe certainly speaks to me. Ricotta is used in many different ways in Italian cooking (in everything from calzones to cannoli to cheesecake), and it makes an appearance once again in these sweet little pies.
5. Russian Paska Easter Bread
This Russian Easter bread takes about 3.5 hours to make, and so it will definitely take a commitment. But the vanilla, sugar, and raisins in the recipe make it deliciously sweet. Some people make miniature versions for the kids in the family.
6. Greek Koulourakia Easter Cookies
These Easter cookies taste a bit like shortbread, but they aren’t as sweet. They are often enjoyed with tea or coffee, or milk for the kids.
7. Maltese Easter Figolli
The shape of this dessert is almost as important as what is in it. Originally it was to be made in the shape of some ancient symbol of fertility, like that of a woman, man, or fish, for example. Nowadays people do other shapes as well. The filling is a wonderul hazelnut and almond paste with a hint of orange.