Home Lifestyle Why do we eat lamb at Easter? The culinary tradition explained

Why do we eat lamb at Easter? The culinary tradition explained

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So tasty (Picture: Getty Images)

On Easter Sunday, tradition dictates that we all sit down together – be it with family or friends – and feast on lamb.

The rest of Easter is apparently about munching chocolate or hot cross buns, and on the evening of Good Friday we are supposed to eat fish.

But on the most important day of the weekend, when Christians celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, the occasion is marked by roast lamb and all the trimmings.

So why is this dish top of the menu? Is there a significance to the tradition of eating roast lamb on Easter Sunday? Let’s have a look.

When did eating roast lamb as a tradition start?

The tradition of eating roast lamb actually began among Jews, as it has links to an important festival in their calendar: Passover.

This year, Passover begins before sunset on 22, April, and ends after sunset on 30, April.

A time to get together (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

According to the Bible, God sent eight devastating plagues upon the people of Egypt, including fire and ice and swarms of frogs. In order to stay safe, Jews painted sacrificed lamb’s blood on their doors, so that God would ‘pass over’ their homes while punishing sinners. Hence, Passover.

Later, when certain Jews converted to Christianity, they carried over the tradition of eating lamb.

Jesus is often referred to as a ‘lamb’

In the Bible, John the Baptist called Jesus the ‘Lamb of God’. It refers to the belief that Jesus was a sort of sacrificial lamb, dying to save humanity.

Christians therefore eat lamb at Easter to remember this sacrifice.

It’s a symbol of new life

Okay, we get that this one is a little ironic. It’s a bit of leap to go from slaughtering and eating a baby animal to celebrating new life.

Sorry guys… (Picture: Getty Images)

However, lambs are a symbol of spring, and new beginnings – aligning with the Easter themes of resurrection and the promise of new life.

This is also why we eat Easter eggs at this time of year.

Does eating lamb have a non-religious history too?

Across history, lambs were also the most readily-available livestock after a long winter where a lot of animals were eaten.

Many of the lambs would have been orphaned by the roasts of winter.

If you don’t eat meat, or just don’t like the idea of eating lamb, alternatives for the Easter Sunday meal include filo pie, quiche, vegetable gratin, risotto or really, whatever takes your fancy.

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