For believers, the event, which embraces Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, is both the most sombre and the most joyous of their year, and special foods for the occasion have evolved in any culture where the tradition is honoured.
In the northern hemisphere from pagan times onwards, the Spring Equinox celebrated the end of winter, and the practise of transposing Christian festivals onto the older pagan calendar as Easter.
Down here in the southern hemisphere, the seasonal significance of Easter and the four-day holiday that traditionally attends it, tends to centre on its being the last great opportunity for a long-weekend away before the onset of winter. As we are reminded every year, more of us travel at Easter than at any other time of the year.
We also buy more fish than at any other time of the year: Good Friday is traditionally the biggest trading day of the year for our seafood markets; queues form from the wee small hours of the morning in a nod to the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on that holy day.
Easter eggs, special cakes and hot-cross buns are among the special foods of Easter, with roast lamb, the dish of the Jewish Passover (which often coincides with the Christian festival) the traditional meat of the celebratory Sunday lunch. For myself, the opportunity to feast and enjoy food in the much more benign temperatures of early autumn is Easter’s great gift to the table.