By Tarli Cameron | April 13, 2022 | Word Geek
TLF’s Word Geek has an insatiable thirst for learning about different cultures, celebrating the differences and similarities that form part of their identities.
This week, she decided to look into some much-cherished Easter food traditions around the world.
From flying Easter bells to lamb cakes, here are some weird and wonderful Easter food traditions which sparked Word Geek’s attention.
France – flying Easter bells (Les cloches volantes)
Church bells are frequently heard in France throughout the year, but they take a break over Easter. Since the 12th Century, it has become customary to silence church bells on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) until Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, according to legend, the bells grow wings and fly to the Vatican in Rome carrying the grief of those who mourn Jesus. When the bells have arrived at their final destination, they are blessed by the Pope.
Easter Sunday brings the sound of bells once more. Excitingly, for children across France, the bells are said to come back from the Vatican bearing chocolate eggs and treats, which they drop off in their gardens.
Germany – Easter lamb cake (Osterlammkuchen)
In Germany, lambs represent Jesus Christ, also known as ‘The lamb of God’. From around the 7th Century, real lambs were slaughtered and brought to church alters on Easter Saturday and then eaten on Easter Sunday as a celebration.
Thankfully, the real sacrifices of lambs are no more. The current tradition is to bake a lamb-shaped cake instead. Lamb cakes sit proudly as the centrepiece up and down German households, often covered in powdered sugar or lemon glaze.
Australia – Easter bilby
For a younger Easter food tradition, Word Geek looked to Australia, where bilby-shaped chocolates are sold as an alternative to chocolate bunnies.
Bilbies (native to Australia) are rabbit-sized marsupials that live in the arid, desert regions. Bilbies were once found across 70% of Australia but are sadly now close to being endangered, due in no small part to the introduction of European rabbits in the 18th century.
In 1968, a 9-year-old girl called Rose-Marie Dusting wrote a story, Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby, which sparked awareness of the bilby. In 1991, The Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia (RFA) went on the develop the idea of an Easter bilby to replace the Easter bunny with native wildlife and to help keep conservation efforts of the bilby moving forward.
Since then, chocolate bilbies have flown off the shelves, and with every purchase made, the funds raised help the futures of real-life bilbies to look more promising.
Mexico – Mexican bread pudding (Capirotada)
If you live in Mexico or are of Mexican heritage, you will have probably enjoyed eating capirotada, a simple bread pudding during Easter.
Capirotada, usually eaten on Good Friday, features layers of nuts, cheese, dried fruit and bread drizzled with cinnamon-infused sugar syrup.
Behind most bread puddings lies an ancient origin waiting to be shared, and capirotada is no exception. Capirotada and its ingredients carry a rich symbolism and a reminder of the suffering of Christ. The bread represents Christ’s body, the cloves symbolise the nails of the cross, the syrup is his blood and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross.
Today there are several takes on the traditional recipe, with popular ingredients including nuts, seeds, dried (and sometimes fresh) fruits and aged cheese.
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