Easter Sunday Meal
Food forms the basic human wants and is thus taken several times a day. However, some meals come occasionally to mark an important event, and one of them is an Easter Sunday dinner celebration. At the same time, some meals have a special significance and say a lot about the history and social practices of those partaking in them. Easter Sunday dinner celebrations are a ritual performed by a number of families in the US and across the world, and my family celebrates it too. The ceremony is held annually during the Easter holiday that comes during the month of March, April, or May. The Easter meal celebration is a Christian celebration feast that is held to mark the death and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The celebration meal is held in some homes, although the day is marked worldwide.
The Easter Sunday meals come in varieties of menus, but my family cherishes a roasted lamb leg accompanied by a number of side dishes. The ingredients for a roasted lamb leg include:
- A six to eight pounds lamb leg with a bone
- A cup of dry wine
- Two clove garlic; the garlic is peeled and crushed lightly.
- Three tablespoonfuls of Dijon Mustard, which is divided into portions.
- Two tablespoonfuls of olive oil
- Two tablespoonfuls of dry sherry
- Black pepper
- A bunch of fresh thyme
It takes about five hours to prepare a roasted turkey meal with the ingredients described above, and the meal can serve up to eight people in the family. The actual cooking time takes about one hour and twenty minutes, and the other time is spent on preparation and waiting.
The lamb leg is placed on a pan covered with foil. Thereafter, a mixture of two tablespoonfuls of Dijon Mustard, salt, garlic, white wine, thyme leaves, and black pepper are combined in a bowl. The mixture is blended by stirring continually for about five minutes and rubbed over the lamb. The coated lamb is covered and placed in the refrigerator for about three hours. While in the refrigerator, the coated lamb is turned from time to time at an interval of every one hour. For every turning, the lamb is recoated with marinade to ensure suppleness.
After refrigeration, the oven is heated to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The lamb is thereafter removed from the refrigerator and marinated and seasoned on all sides with pepper, salt, and olive oil. The leftover marinade is reserved for later use. A roasting pan is prepared, whereby it is fitted with a roasting rack. The lamb leg is placed with the fatty side facing up at the center of the preheated oven. To ensure well-roasted meat, the leg is elevated at the bottom to facilitate uniform penetration of heat. When the temperature is maintained at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat starts to brown quickly. After about thirty minutes, the temperature of the oven is lowered to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and allowed to heat for about 14 minutes. The heating is allowed for each pound of meat, including the bone. The oven heat is further lowered to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit and allowed to cook for about thirty minutes. The meat is allowed to rest with the fat side down to ensure redistribution of juices into the meat.
Cooking Process and Celebration
Conventionally, our housemaid does the cooking of all meals because our mother is hardly at home when meals are being prepared. However, during the Easter celebration, the meal is given importance and my mother runs the show. She prepares the ingredients and allows the housemaid to rest. During the process of cooking, she requests some errands from my younger sister on top of showing her the procedure for preparing the meal. My mother normally ensures that everyone around has been given a role in preparing for this meal. My father’s role is to ensure the lamb is brought home on time. When preparing for the Easter roasted lamb, we also engage in cleaning, as well as arranging the dining hall for the celebration. Since we are few, we normally invite two to three friends or neighbors who do not prepare the Easter lamb at their homes. The meal is taken to the dining hall, and the whole family eats together. Before eating, my father normally reads some verses in the Bible and my mother offers some prayers to mark the Easter celebrations.
The redistribution of roles signifies an essential family structure, as well as social relationships. In the first place, it implies that a family is united and shares the same tradition and practices. During Easter, everyone is present and we share the meal together as a family, including workers. This is a sign of love and unity. In addition, the roles are distributed effectively and this indicates a family structure. Our father normally ensures the meat is brought home and this is a sign of provision. The father is depicted as a breadwinner and the mother is portrayed as a caregiver to the family. Children are portrayed as obedient to their parents and are supposed to assist in carrying out the roles assigned to them by their parents. Although servants are supposed to work for their masters, they require kindness and assistance, and this is normally portrayed during the Easter celebrations. The ritual of God-fearing is also portrayed during this period and is an indication of effective parenting, whereby the children are brought up in the fear of God.
The Origin of the Easter Lamb
Christians celebrate the Easter festival with immense fanfare across the world. This is a day when the resurrection of Christ Jesus is commemorated and observed religiously with fervor, as the three days after Jesus was crucified. During this occasion, churches conduct special services and they decorate the altars with beautiful flowers of traditional Easter. Prayers are offered to the almighty God and people disperse to their respective places to enjoy the rest of the day’s celebrations with the members of their families. In most cases, a lavish meal is prepared in people’s homes. It is followed by a delicious meal that contains recipes of traditional Easter. In the case of traditional dishes, recipes made by using lamb are dominant (Ketchen Project par. 4).
On top of being a traditional dish in the Easter meals, Easter Lamb is also a constituent of religious symbolism. It is a significant Easter symbol in eastern and central European countries. Easter lamb is used to represent Jesus, as it relates to the death he encountered on the cross when it was sacrificed during the first Passover. The lamb has been mentioned repeatedly in the holy book of the seventh-century of the Benedictine Monastery. Traditionally, Jesus is referred to as “the lamb of God” by Christians. Draped with victory, the Easter lamb is commonly seen in images and pictures in the homes of most families, in eastern and central Europe, during the Easter holiday celebrations (Mosshammer 57).
The lamb has been a vital part of the feast of traditional Easter together with smoked ham. People have for many years been preparing various recipes using lamb. The lamb is prepared in different ways, such as in roasted and fried forms. The lamb-shaped cakes are also baked in many households as the dessert item accompanying the Easter dinner. The major component for Easter dinner has oftentimes been roast lamb in most countries. To replace the lamb, chunks of meat were utilized, especially after the 10th century. Nevertheless, in certain Benedictine monasteries, uncut lambs are still used today. The use of lamb in Easter dinner was inspired by the ancient Pasch lamb tradition. Lamb is used as both foods and as a theme decoration on tables during Easter festivities. In the contemporary celebrations of Easter, little lamb pieces are made with the help of sugar, butter, or pastry. Attractive Craft objects are also made from the lamb symbol and this serves in decorating premises and home pieces. The lamb symbol can also be used to decorate the front of greeting cards that are handmade. These cards are sent to people’s loved ones to convey the wishes of Easter to them (Mosshammer 41).
The Easter celebration following the resurrection of Jesus Christ is said to be the background of the Christian faith. Such resurrection depicted Jesus as the mighty Son of God and proved that God shall judge the world in righteousness. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, new birth and hopeful living has been given to Christians as well as walking in a new way of life (Mosshammer 65).
The ancient Christians argue that Jesus was crucified around the same time the Passover lambs were slain. This is why the Passover lamb is used to symbolize Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus was crucified with no sin for humankind, in the same way people are expected to resurrect from sin to new life in Christ Jesus. This is always the theme behind Easter festivities (Mosshammer 87).
How Easter lamb contributes to our family’s identity and history
The Hebrews ate the Passover lamb to mark the celebration of the Passover feast on the day they were spared from the angel of death when he passed over their homes to strike the firstborns of the Egyptians. It marked a favor from God for protecting them from death tragedy and it was to be celebrated by the favored ones. By partaking in this celebration, it indicates that our family believes in the God of the Israelites. In addition, it means that each member of our family fears God. The meal further associates our family with shared responsibilities and well-structured organization.
Easter lamb has been the tradition of our family and it was practiced even before I was born. The devotion of the family to observing this ritual has etched a number of episodes in our family history. A number of people have sought the advice of my mother and father on Godly issues because our celebration of the Passover has not been unnoticed. Workers at home have enjoyed a good working environment and acceptance as part of the family members. The focus of the family has been to obey, and practice what Jesus Christ commands.
Ketchen Project. “The History of Lamb on Easter.” 2013. Web. 26 March 2014 <http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/Easter/Lamb.htm>.
Mosshammer, Alden. The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.