When I was a child, Easter was like Christmas.
I was born and raised in Portugal and lived there until 2012.
Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, with 81% of the population being Catholic.
I have to admit, I didn’t even know much about other religions until my adult age. There was only one standard around me, the country and the school system were based on the catholic church calendar and traditions.
Like, I used to say Easter Break, not Spring break at school.
When I moved to the UK in 2012, I realized there are other religions, and there are other dates to celebrate. Still in the UK, Good Friday is a bank holiday.
When I moved to the US, I realized Good Friday is not a bank holiday, and the traditions are very different with so many cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
I need to say I feel blessed for having this opportunity to live these moments and have colleagues and friends from different cultures. It is just beautiful to see the world from a different cultural lens.
So I thought I would write about the Portuguese culture, and what has been our family habit since we started living in the US, and some interesting, fun facts about this journey.
Well, I have to say, during my childhood, Easter was time to put on new clothes, visit my grandmother, where we held our family gathering, and there were presents for children. Normally it was like a pack of almonds sugar coated, and an envelope with money. I used to love it.
During Good Friday, we didn’t eat meat.
I need to be honest, when I was a child, everytime I listened to the story about why we shouldn’t eat meat, I used to cringe. Because Good Friday is the day that Christians observe their savior, Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, and abstaining from eating meat is a recognition of his sacrifice.
I remember one year, I think in middle school, I woke up, and prepared myself a sandwich with cheese and ham for breakfast when I realized it was Good Friday, and shouldn’t have eaten meat… I was sick all day crying, thinking something bad will happen!
Not eating meat is a habit that we still keep today. We normally eat codfish with chickpeas. There was a discussion if chicken is meat!!! At our house, chicken is in the category of meat… 🙂
Then on Easter Sunday, the main dish used to be roasted lamb with potatoes.
Second main dish was stewed rabbit.
Oh well… those dishes were not my favorite at all… and my grandma knew about it and she always had some chicken cooked for me! Sweet memories…
The reunion was all it matters.
The desserts were good as well, like rice pudding, baked flan, Portuguese Easter bread, which is a sweet bread with some whole eggs on top baked with the eggshell.
I know it sounds weird explaining this… but it is what you can do if you go to Portugal during Easter.
My favorite were the chocolate eggs, and the almonds, either sugar coated or chocolate coated.
Here in the US, we are trying to keep a special meal during Easter Sunday, not lamb or rabbit, but like turkey or beef. Then the desserts we make are the typical Portuguese ones, and the almonds I buy are from a Portuguese store nearby. We skip the Easter bread… I don’t really like it, and it is so expensive buying it here in the US.
The new tradition I love, and we are doing since we spend Easter with only the four of us, is the Egg Hunt in our backyard!
It is so much fun, and there is the prep work, which we are trying to innovate year after year.
It actually becomes quite competitive, as there is a winner at the end!
MAMA team and PAPA team!
Last year the MAMA team won! 🙂
I feel the most beautiful part of all these traditions from different countries, backgrounds, religions, is based on the same foundation: family, food, love, and hope.
This is what I wish for you and your family, Love and Hope.
Let me know about your traditions during this Season, if not Easter, Passover, or other that can be relevant for you. I would love to know more about you! Share them in the comments below!