In 2012, our family virtually explored Greece for a year, learning about the culture in many ways, and especially through festivals and celebrations. Pascha, or Easter, is the most widely observed and most important religious holiday in Greece. With this Easter menu, we enjoyed the tastes and culture of Greece.
The Easter season in Greece starts months earlier with Carnival celebrations, followed by 40 days of lent, culminating at the end of Holy Week with Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus, a chance for rebirth and a welcoming of warmer days. Breaking the 40 day fast of Lent starts at midnight on Easter Saturday, during a candlelit service. Families gather back home with lit candles to bless their homes, and then break the fast with magiritsa, Easter lamb soup, made of the offal (small intestine, heart, liver, kidneys) removed from the lamb to be roasted for Easter Sunday.This midnight feast, enjoyed upon returning from church, includes Easter soup, cheese and tsoureki (a sweet bread). These are the foods that have been abstained from, and heartily enjoyed. You can find a recipe for magiritsa here.
Easter Sunday Dinner Menu
Traditional roast of lamb. The main dish for Easter Sunday in Greece is lamb, most traditionally whole lamb roasted on a spit. To enjoy Easter lamb at home, roast a leg of lamb in traditional Greek manner with olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano.
Roasted potatoes and sauteed asparagus. Great accompaniments to roast lamb are Greek roasted potatoes, baked with stock and lemon juice, and sauteed asparagus with lemon and garlic.
Tzatziki, warm pita, and Greek olives. Either as appetizers, or sides these are classic and popular in our household. Be sure to use Greek yogurt to make the tzatziki – it makes all the difference.
Tsoureki. Traditionally part of breaking the fast, Easter bread, a soft sweet bread, is an essential part of Pascha. This brioche is braided, either into a log or ring, with cooked red eggs tucked in. It is flavored with orange, aniseed or mahlepi (ground cherry pits).
Melopita For dessert, we enjoyed a Greek honey & ricotta cheese pie, a traditional Easter dessert from Sifnos. We also had sliced blood oranges drizzled with honey as a light and refreshing dessert.
Red Easter Eggs
Red dyed Easter eggs are an essential part of the Greek celebration of Easter. They are died a deep red to symbolize life and represent the blood of Christ. Traditionally dyed on Holy Thursday, these eggs are tucked into tsoureki, given as gifts, and used to play the traditional Easter game of Tsougrisma. To play this game, everyone has one red (hard boiled) egg. Find an opponent, and lightly tap the end of your egg against the end of your opponent’s egg. Continue with all gathered until one person’s egg is left without cracking – it is said this person will have good luck for a year. If you want to dye your eggs red, follow the instructions found here.
I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy a special Greek Easter celebration.
You can also read other multicultural meal plans in this series.
Marie-Claude is the parent of two incredible girls. Over the years, they have immersed themselves virtually in various cultures. This year they have been exploring the cultures of West Africa, which is being chronicled on her blog at mariespastiche.blogspot.com.
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