All across Europe, Easter is the time for Easter egg hunts and to feast on delicious meals with families and friends after the weeks of lent. This Easter will not be like any other as we cannot celebrate together, but we take the opportunity to look at some tasty Easter treats and some wonderful traditions in our destinations.
Tasty treats from Portugal
Over 80% of the population are Christian and traditional meals served for Easter reflect the long religious tradition and are centered around eggs and lamb. Here are some ideas for a traditional Portuguese Easter meal!
Roast lamb or goat
Lamb symbolizes the Jewish sacrifice during the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and it has made its way as the most traditional Easter main dish in many Christian countries all over the world. Also in Portugal, roast lamb (or goat in the Northern parts of the country) would be the favorite to serve on Easter Sunday.
The most common recipe marinates the meat in white wine, bay leaves and garlic and then roasted in the oven for hours. It is best served with simple roast potatoes.
Folar de Pascoa
Folar de Pascoa is a sweet bread and is traditionally served as a dessert on Palm Sunday. The bread is filled with seven hard-baked eggs, a traditional symbol for the rebirth of Jesus.
The bread also stands for reconciliation and friendship, legend has it that a young woman could not chose between her two lovers and the bread was presented to the young Mariana and the young men by Santa Catarina to arbitrate their rivalry.
The bread is only made of a few ingredients, but be prepared to use a lot of eggs! It has a lovely sweet and savory taste and makes for a beautiful presentation on the Easter table. https://www.pinterest.ie/pin/313703930298264233/
Pao de Lo
This delicious and light sponge cake is only made from three ingredients - eggs, sugar and flour! Recipe variations also use a lemon zest or cinnamon and feel free to have the bread as a sweet breakfast served with jam. Pao de Lo originates from the 15. Century and was traditionally made in convents by nuns and still makes a simple and tasty dessert for Easter today.
Easter in Sicily
Like all over Italy, the holy week is celebrated with processions and ritual prayers. Many small towns in Sicily have their own traditions - from the Holy week in Caltanissetta, where the whole town is turned into a stage for ancient processions or the artistic competition between two brotherhoods in San Biagio Platani, where both brotherhoods spend the week before Easter decorating arches.
The dancing devils in Prizzi
Our favorite tradition is the “Devils Dance” taking place in Prizzi, South of Palermo. It originates from a pagan tradition, which displays the eternal struggle between good and evil. During the morning of Palm Sunday, two red devils together with the Death dressed in yellow rage through the streets of the village, playing tricks and capturing the by-passers souls. The event reaches its peak in the afternoon when the trio tries to hinder the meeting between the statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary, but they are driven away by the two angels escorting the procession and happy music fills the streets of Prizzi.
Sicilian Easter treats
Like in many other European countries, most people in Sicily would feast on Easter lamb, followed by sweet cakes and pastries. Here are two traditional dishes that will certainly treat your taste buds.
Easter lamb pie
This delicious focaccia-like pie filled with lamb and herbs is the traditional Easter Sunday lunch in Ragusa. Every family uses its own traditional recipe and usually it is prepared in a big round shape and uses the whole leg of lamb, including the bones.
This traditional sponge cake made with ricotta, marzipan and candied fruits makes for one of the tastiest fusions between Italian and Arab cuisine. The origin of the cake dates back to the Arab invasion of Sicily in the 10. century when the Arabs introduced sugar to Sicily and it has since been the traditional Easter dessert in Sicily.
Iceland - all about chocolate
Easter eggs only arrived to Iceland in the early 20. century , but they have become hugely popular since. The special big Icelandic “Paskaegg” (chocolate eggs) is filled with traditional Icelandic sweets - or liquor for the older generations - and also hides an old Icelandic saying inside.
Another special treat for Easter would be the special Easter brews offered by many local breweries over the holidays, which can be found in liquor stores and bars all over Iceland. A “Páskabjór” is usually quite dark and breweries often add a chocolate flavor to it.
Time to solve a murder in Norway
Traditionally, many Norwegians make their way to the cabin over the long Easter weekend to enjoy the late skiing season or to catch a glimpse of the early spring sun. Time with the family is often spent quizzing or eating “rakfisk” - a fermented fish made from trout and served with onions potatoes and sour cream. Easter is also a popular time to feast on oranges - over 20 million oranges are consumed in Norway over Easter every year, offering a welcome Vitamin C boost after a long winter. This tradition has been linked to the merchants ships returning to Norway in early spring, loaded with fresh fruit from Mediterranean countries.
There is this weird obsession with crime over the holidays, with crime literature and series on the tele being hugely popular. One popular explanation sees the tradition of “Påskekrim” (Easter crime) being born in Bergen, when two young men decided to write a crime novel in the 1920s. One of the men had a brother working as an editor for a publishing company and he managed to place a front page ad for their novel in the “Aftenposten”, one of Norway's biggest newspaper. The headline read the books title “Bergen train hijacked last night” and as the ad looked like a real article, many people fell for the stunt and the newspaper was swamped with people inquiring about relatives and loved ones safety as they travelled on the train the day before. The paper was published just the day before Easter, causing a huge sensation and entertainment for many people over the holiday and people all over Norway turn into detectives over the holidays ever since.