The Inspired Cook

The origins of Easter traditions revealed

Does your family adhere to any Easter traditions? My family certainly did while I was growing up in Eustace during the 1960’s. After sharing a few of them with you in my column last week, I was curious about the origins of Easter traditions. A quick online search satisfied my curiosity.

Although Christians established Easter as a time for commemorating Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the holiday also began to represent rebirth and new life. To celebrate this, people wore pure clothing—new clothes never before worn.

The tradition of women wearing Easter bonnets or hats began long before the actual holiday. Made of merely flowers and leaves shaped into a circle, the original bonnets symbolized the changing of seasons and the arrival of spring.

Ancient Pagans believed eggs symbolized new life and used them in their spring festivals. Others thought the egg signified the stone that was moved from the tomb of Christ exposing his resurrection.

American Easter egg hunting originated in Pennsylvania in the 1700’s when German immigrants brought with them their tradition of Osterhase, or the Easter hare. Although we Americans call him the Easter Bunny, in some countries he is known as the Easter Rabbit. Whatever his name, he is probably the most universal symbol of Easter. Since ancient times, rabbits and hares have symbolized spring’s plentiful new life perhaps due to their having recurrent multiple births.

It’s no secret that rabbits love carrots—just ask Bugs Bunny.  Actually I’m quite fond of them, too; so I’ve chosen to share with you an original carrot recipe I created. A package of dried cranberries sitting in my pantry inspired me to revamp the classic carrot-raisin salad I remember from my childhood.

Ruby-Studded Carrot Salad

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz. shredded carrots (about 10)
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  • 2 t. orange zest, finely grated
  • 2/3 c. orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. sea salt, fine grind

Directions:

Place sugar and juice into a medium-sized bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add in remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to let the cranberries plump and the flavors meld.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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