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How Lamb, Chocolate, and Eggs Became Easter Traditions

easter lamb chocolate eggs
Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. Credit: Malchen53/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Around Greece, people are gearing up to celebrate Easter with friends and family. While many Greek Easter celebrations are unique to the country, there are some elements of the feast day that are shared with many cultures: lamb, chocolate, and eggs.

Let’s take a look at how these three foods became Easter traditions.

Why is Lamb an Iconic Easter Dish in Greece and around the world?

Lamb easter eggs chocolate
Lamb on the spit in Greece. Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

For Christians, the tradition of eating lamb on Easter is symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus made for them when He died on the Cross for their sins.

Pascha, or Easter, is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and eat lamb in remembrance of His selfless act.

However, lambs have had a special symbolic place in Passover observances even before the birth of Christianity.

According to Exodus, in Egypt, people suffered from disease and plague, as well as an epidemic of the death of all firstborn sons.

Jews painted the red blood of a sacrificed lamb on their home’s doorposts in hopes that God would pass over their house when exacting punishment for sins to claim the life of the household’s firstborn son.

Chocolate became a holiday treat during the Victorian Period

A bunny with chocolate Easter eggs. Credit: chris /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Chocolate came into the picture as an Easter favorite during the Victorian age in England, when people developed a love for sweets.

The famous chocolate company, Cadbury, founded in 1824, began selling its famous easter chocolates in 1875, which soon became all the rage.

People began to give the sweet treats to each other as Easter gifts during the holiday, a tradition that has continued up to today.

By 1983, the company offered nineteen different product lines for Easter.

The trend continues today with many chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, and other treats, from all different chocolate brands.

Even Greeks began to embrace chocolate as an integral part of their Easter celebrations. Many Greeks give out chocolate eggs and bunnies to friends and family during the Easter season.

The Story Behind Easter Eggs

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Red eggs for Easter. Credit: Vassilis/CC-BY-SA-2.0

For Christian believers, the egg itself is symbolic of the empty tomb that Jesus left behind as He was resurrected after His crucifixion.

The red dye which the eggs are dipped in is meant to represent the blood of Jesus who sacrificed Himself on the cross for all of mankind while the color of red itself also plays an important role, as it is considered the color of life and victory.

Traditionally, the Greek Orthodox Christians dye their eggs red on Holy Thursday in commemoration of the Last Supper, known as Jesus’ last meal before He was crucified.

In other parts of the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, eggs are dyed bright colors and hidden as a part of an egg hunt game or used for egg rolls.

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