It’s not about Bunnies and Eggs but a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter is the fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah who would be persecuted, die for our sins, and rise on the third day. (Isaiah 53). Remembering the resurrection of Jesus is a way to renew daily hope that we have victory over sin.
Celebrate we must! So go ahead and indulge in some mouthwatering, symbolic, Easter fare.
The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday calls for a celebration of sorts. Known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Why? Because on this day, all fatty, rich foods had to be gotten rid off before Lent.
In days gone by, there were many foods that conscious Christians would not eat during Lent: foods like meat, fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods. In order to prevent wastage of food, families would have a feast on Shrove Tuesday and eat up all the foods that wouldn’t last the forty days of Lent.
Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.
Symbolic Simnel Cake and Mothering Sunday
Mothering Sunday,(though unheard of in these parts), comes mid-way between Lent, (exactly 3 weeks before Easter Sunday) On this day rules of fasting get relaxed in honour of the feeding of the 5000 a story in the Christian Bible. In the UK, especially, people celebrate this day as Mothers Day. A special cake called ‘Simnel Cake’ is baked and consumed either on Easter or on Mothering Sunday itself.
Simnel meaning fine wheaten flour, not only delicious but also symbolic. A rich fruit cake topped with marzipan. 11 marzipan balls or figures are placed around the circular marzipan coated cake to signify the 11 disciples. The 12th disciple being Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ, therefore, was excluded. Some cakes have a larger figure or ball in the centre of the cake to signify Jesus.
Good Friday and the hot-cross-buns! These buns are symbolic too. To mark the end of the Lenten fast Christians eat hot cross buns. These have a special meaning. The cross in the middle shows how Jesus died. Spices inside remind Christians of the spices put on the body of Jesus. Sweet fruits in the hot-cross buns show that Christians no longer have to eat plain foods.
Easter Eggs or Bunnies – their significance
Easter eggs are used as a Christian symbol to represent the empty tomb. The outside of the egg looks dead but inside there is a new life, which is going to break out. The Easter egg is a reminder that Jesus will rise from His tomb and bring new life. Orthodox Christians dye boiled eggs red to make red Easter eggs that represent the blood of Christ shed for the sins of the world. (Anne Jordan (5 April 2000).Christianity. Nelson Thornes. Retrieved 7 April 2012)
Easter eggs are made of marzipan or chocolate and decorated colourfully.
The hare (rabbit) is also an ancient symbol for the moon. The date of Easter depends on the moon. This may have helped the hare to be absorbed into Easter celebrations.
John 1:29 – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Christian Bible)
The Easter celebrations in Portugal (which many Portuguese speaking Goans follow) also include several special dishes and treats. Besides the traditional codfish served on Good Friday, roast lamb is usually eaten on Easter Sunday, “a heritage from the Jewish tradition” which celebrates the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt and the sacrifice of the lambs in the story of their flight to freedom. As mentioned before, the folar ( a type of stuffed bun) is to be found on most people’s tables around this time of the year. It represents both the distribution of bread in the Last Supper and the resurrection of Christ. It is mainly served as a sweet bread, but in some regions, it is also made as a savoury and includes sausages, ham or other meats.
Bake your favourite goodies to make this Easter truly traditional.
Hot Cross Buns, Simnel Cake, and Easter Biscuits
(by Dawn Copeman)
Hot Cross Buns (Makes 12)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon allspice or mixed spice
0.5 stick butter
0.5 cup currants (or raisins or sultanas — your personal preference)
1 oz yeast
0.5 cup sugar
1 cup milk
- Sift the flour, salt and spice into a large bowl. Rub in the butter and then add the currants (or substitutes).
- Warm the milk.
- Cream the yeast and sugar together and add to the warm milk. Leave to rest for about ten minutes until batter is of spongelike consistency.
- Add the milk mixture to the ingredients in the bowl and mix to form a dough.
- Leave to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well, then cut into twelve pieces.
- Flatten each piece into a circle. using a knife, mark each piece deeply with a cross.
- Allow to rest again for about ten minutes.
- Bake in the oven at 400°F, 200°C or Gas Mark 6 for twenty minutes.
- Glaze with sugar dissolved in water.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
Grated rind of half a lemon
A quarter teaspoon of allspice or mixed spice
A half teaspoon of baking powder
1 quarter cup of currants
- Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar, lemon rind, allspice, baking powder, and currants. Make into a dough with a little of the beaten egg.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of a quarter of an inch and cut into biscuits.
- Bake on a baking tray for twenty minutes at 350°F, 180°C or Gas Mark 4.
- As soon as you remove them from the oven, dust with sugar and leave to cool.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
A pinch of salt
2 cups currants
1.5 cups sultanas
Half a cup of mixed peel
Half a cup of chopped, blanched almonds
1 cup cherries (optional)
A teaspoon of mixed spice
Grated rind of half a lemon
Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2/3 cup of milk
Almond paste for the inside of the cake (using the recipe below or ready-made)
Half a cup of sugar
Half a cup of sieved icing sugar
One and a quarter cups of ground almonds
1 large egg A 10-inch round cake tin (greased and lined with a double layer of greaseproof paper)
Almond paste for the outside of the cake
4 cups icing sugar
1 cup of sugar
2.5 cups of ground almonds
1 tablespoon of rum
This is a complicated cake, so we do it in stages.
Stage one: Make the almond paste.
- Mix together the sugars with the ground almonds; add a few drops of almond essence and enough egg to make the mixture into a soft paste.
- Remove a small portion to make the balls later.
- Roll the remaining paste into a round the size of the cake tin.
Stage two: Make the cake
- In a large bowl, add the sugar to the butter and beat to a cream.
- Add the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour and mix until the mixture is stiff and of uniform consistency.
- Stir in the remainder of the flour, a pinch of salt, the fruit, the almond essence, bicarbonate of soda and the milk. Mix well.
- Place half the mixture into the cake tin, level, and then add a layer of the almond paste on top of the mix.
- Pour the rest of the cake mix on top of the almond paste.
- Bake in the oven at 300°F, 150°C or Gas Mark 2, for approximately four hours – it varies from oven to oven so check regularly. It is cooked if a metal skewer can be inserted in the cake and removed without a trace of stickiness.
- Remove cake from oven and allow to completely cool.
Stage Three: Decorate the cake
While the cake is cooling, make the almond paste for the outside of the cake.
- Mix together the sugars and the almonds, then slowly add the beaten eggs, beating them well in, until you have a pliable paste.
- When the cake is cold, add the almond paste, and decorate with eleven almond paste balls.
- Brush the top of the cake with a little-beaten egg and place under the grill until the almond paste turns brown.
- Allow to cool and decorate with flowers or sugar flowers.
(information credit: crosswalk.com)