Amelia has been writing online for a decade. She loves Easter and Lent and enjoys sharing various related traditions and recipes.
The Meaning of Easter
Although you may associate Easter with eggs and the Easter bunny, it has a much deeper meaning for Christians throughout the world. Each year, Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter, which is preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, penance, and prayer.
Easter is a special religious holiday with many family traditions. Growing up Catholic allowed me to learn not only about the religious meaning of Easter, but also about the foods, activities, and events that take place during the Easter season.
Easter does not have a fixed date on the calendar. The First Council of Nicaea, a group of Christians who met in Nicaea in 325 AD, established the date of Easter to be the first Sunday after the Pascal full moon following the March equinox. The date of Easter varies between March 22nd and April 25th.
What is Lent?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, when blessed ashes made from the previous Palm Sunday are administered on the foreheads of Christians in the sign of the cross. This is performed by priests, ministers, or other clergymen.
In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance.
What Is Fat Tuesday?
You may have heard the expression “Fat Tuesday.” This is the day before Ash Wednesday. This day is alternatively known as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. “Fat Tuesday” is a day that some indulge in fancy or “fatty” foods since the Lenten season, including abstinence of meat of Fridays for Catholics, and making sacrifices, is about to begin. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and refers to the carnival celebrations that begin on or after the Epiphany before Ash Wednesday.
Lent continues for approximately six weeks. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The day after Holy Saturday is Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday and Palm Weaving
Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, commemorates the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday, there is normally the blessing of the Palm, or palm leaves. Several palm leaves are given to each person who attends the church mass.
Growing up, my mother taught me how to make crosses from the palm given on Palm Sunday. I have fond memories of Palm Sunday when our family sat together making crosses and even baskets from palm leaves. It was a fun craft for all ages. We made crosses from two pieces of palm, which typically looked like the image in this photo.
How to Make a Palm Cross
In this next video, look at the beautifully weaved palm items shown at the beginning and end of the video.
On Good Friday, the Church mourns for the death of Jesus Christ.
Some churches have a meditation and prayer service to reflect on the Three Hours of Agony, from midday until 3 pm to commemorate the hours that Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross.
Holy Saturday Easter Vigil
On the night before Easter, on Holy Saturday, one of the longest and most solemn liturgical services in the Roman Catholic Church takes place: the Easter Vigil. For anyone who has never attended an Easter Vigil, it can last up to three or four hours and consists of several parts: the Service of the Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism, where new members of the church receive the sacrament of Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist. Some churches have a candle lighting ceremony.
Egg Frittata and Easter Bread on Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday is a celebration of the risen Christ. Christians attend church and then feast on various traditions dishes on this special day.
For breakfast or brunch, growing up, we always feasted on a delicious egg frittata. Frittata (pronounced “fri – tat – taa”) is an egg-based Italian dish, similar to quiche. Frittatas may contain meats, cheeses (traditionally, ricotta cheese), vegetables and even pasta. They can be as thick as a hearty quiche, or a bit thinner, depending on the ingredients and preferences.
Our family’s traditional frittata contained lots of eggs, chopped up ham, some ricotta cheese, and some kind of vegetable, which was usually asparagus. As the years passed, I stopped using ricotta cheese and just went with a basic, hearty omelette filled with healthy ingredients such as eggs, low-fat cheese, and vegetables. I substitute spinach for asparagus. My frittata today looks more like the picture below. I also like to use colors when cooking too, including lots of colorful vegetables. .
Here’s a Healthy Frittata Recipe That I Found to Share
In addition to frittata, another favorite family tradition was Easter Bread. Local bakeries traditional make traditional Easter Bread by baking twisted bread in the oven with decorated eggs. The finished product typically looks like this:
The photo above was Easter Bread that I ordered in the past from a local bakery. It was hot and fresh out of their oven, and quite delicious! It’s a sweat bread, and best eaten when it’s fresh. The eggs in the bread are normally removed to make egg salad or add to any dish that calls for hard-boiled eggs.
Along with eating egg frittata, Easter Bread (containing hard-boiled eggs), the eggs don’t stop there on Easter. Of course, no Easter would be complete without the traditional coloring of hard-boiled eggs and displaying them in a pretty Easter basket.
You can use freshly decorated eggs, or plastic eggs filled with tasty treats. You can also use plastic eggs filled with prizes and treats, and hide them around the house or yard for a fun Easter Egg Hunt!
Ponzette for Easter Dinner
For Easter dinner, our family traditionally had an Italian favorite, called “Ponzette” which was actually stuffed breast of veal. I always heard that word growing up, but I recently looked it up to see if it was a real word. I think the real word is panzetta, but my mom always pronounced it as “pon-zette.” I have never made it, and only remember having it growing up as a child.
Over the years, Easter dinner at our house varied but always seemed to include either veal, ham or chicken, and that was the main course. However, like Thanksgiving, Easter was also filled with more courses in our Italian family. There was usually some kind of pasta served as well, with homemade meatballs. Incidentally, I don’t really eat veal and haven’t had ponzette since I was a little girl. I don’t think too many people make it anymore.
Traditional Antipasto Platter
And remember those eggs from the Easter Bread? Those eggs can be used to make a delicious antipasto dish, filled with sliced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, salami, tomatoes, and olives over a bed of lettuce. This served as either an appetizer or salad to accompany the main course.
Does anybody out there remember “pon-zette” or “panzetta” (which is an old Italian dish of stuffed breast of veal)?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Amelia Griggs
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on January 09, 2017:
That's wonderful to hear about your grandmother and how she used to make "Ponzette". My mother was the best cook ever, and although I never tried to make it, I found notes for the recipe for you. Here you go (please note, some ingredients have no measurement as my mom never wrote them down...she just knew exactly how much to put it...like magic):
When buying a ponzette, find one that's not too thick, and one with a good size pocket).
2 cups bread crumbs (approx.)
a dash of milk
1 or 2 pieces of cooked sausage with skin off, break up or chop in small pieces
Mix all above, it should not be too soft or too hard, it should be moist, add more milk if needed.
Stuff pocket and tie with string and large needle (made for cooking)
In dish, mix some paprika, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, parsley, basil, and brush or run on ponzette.
In roasting pan, put a little oil, add chopped carrots, celery, onion, parsley, a little water.
Add ponzette in pan, cover, with lid or foil, cook 2 - 2 1/2 hours, remove lid for last 15-30 min. to brown, cook at 350-375 degrees.
Check every 1/2 hr. add water to keep moist.
When done, then with sharp knife, cut into slices, along the bone (like ribs).
My mom sometimes would put it back in over after slicing to warm again.
ENJOY!!! Now I have to try to make it just like my mom. Thank you for your interest, because of your post, I found the recipe and this brought back wonderful memories!
Carole on January 08, 2017:
Do you have the recipe for ponzette that you can share? My Italian grandmother used to make it, and I don't have the recipe. Thanks.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on April 15, 2014:
Thanks, WiccanDage, glad you liked the hub. Everyone can still enjoy the delicious treats and recipes during this holiday. Enjoy!
Mackenzie Sage Wright on April 15, 2014:
Great hub. I'm not Christian and don't celebrate Easter, but I love Easter bread & hey-- frirtatas. Yum. Got me wanting to plan a breakfast this weekend. Nice work on this hub, lots of fun and interesting stuff. Enjoy your holiday!
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on March 29, 2014:
Thanks for your comment, Rachel, much appreciated. Glad you liked you hub!
Rachel Horon on March 29, 2014:
A wonderful collection of memories and traditions to share!