For many Christians, Easter is one of holiest days on the calendar and a time to reflect on faith, life and new beginnings. It's also the first major holiday of the year, with most school children getting time off school and the majority of adults able to enjoy a long bank holiday weekend. It's a perfect time to book a short trip somewhere and, in the spirit of Easter, experience something completely fresh and new. No matter where you are in the world, cuisine plays a big role in Easter tradition, so where better to begin your journey?
We're going to take you on a journey exploring some of the most popular Easter cuisine throughout Europe, and explain a little about each dish.
Hot Cross Buns
You can't go back to 18th Century London, but that doesn't mean you can't taste it. Hot cross buns are simple but delicious; a yeasted sweet bun that's studded with raisins and often lightly spiced. They're instantly recognisable by the cross that sits on top, either etched in or painted on with icing. It's not defined why hot cross buns have become tradition at Easter, but many think it's to do with the cross contributing to Christian symbolism.
Roast lamb is very common in all Christian countries and will be a main feature on dinner tables during the Easter season. It's very common to enjoy roast lamb after a Church service on Easter Sunday. The lamb is considered an important animal to the Christian faith, going back to the book of Genesis when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son. We know that in centuries past, lamb was also considered lucky and that meeting a lamb was supposed to change your fortune. Perhaps this is why we have come to associate it with new beginnings.
Every Christian country in Europe uses bread in creative ways throughout the Easter holiday. This likely comes from the tradition of eating holy or 'communion' bread during Orthodox services in centuries past. The Germans have Osterkranz which is a sweet roll made with almonds and raisins which is then sliced and enjoyed with breakfast. The Dutch enjoy Paasstol during the Easter holidays which is also the same bread they use at Christmas time - it has the same almond taste but usually has added fruits and hazelnuts. If you enjoy baking, Easter is a really great time to experiment.
Other Easter Cuisines
In Portugal you'll easily come across bacalhau com natas at Easter time. It could best be described as a 'creamy cod bake' in the UK, but the Portuguese make it with Salt Cod - a fish local to their waters with a very distinctive flavour. If you're touring Italy you may also find Torta Pasqualina on the menu - a savoury chard pie that makes for a delicious snack.
Whatever your plans for the Easter holidays, we know that it's the perfect timing for a long weekend getaway. With so much to see and do right across Europe and travel being relatively unrestricted, why not get around by car? With so many wonderful places to eat and so many hidden landmarks to uncover, we think it's your best way of discovering Europe at Easter.