Celebrations are just never complete without the food that forms an integral part of the festivities. Easter is no exception. Although it is commonly known as a Christian celebration of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, it is said that many Easter customs and food traditions have been observed since the time of early pagans. Easter is celebrated around the world, especially in Europe, and here are just a few foods which add sweetness to the celebrations.
Koulourakia is not just a seasonal food as these pastries are available in bakeries year-round and some households make them on a regular basis. However, Easter in a Greek home is deemed incomplete without this traditional dessert which got its name from how it is typically formed: braided or looped around in a circle.
This sweet pastry is surprisingly very easy to make and doesn’t call for fancy ingredients. It is made by combining butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, oranges (both zest and juice), and sesame seeds. Part of the custom is hand-shaping the dough to form braids or circles. Members of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization formed koulourakia into small snakes as they highly regarded these reptiles for their power to heal.
The Hellenic Republic, as Greece is officially known, is a Eurozone member and thus uses the Euro (EUR) as its currency. It is in the GMT+2 time zone. The general climate across the country is Mediterranean but be sure to pack the essentials for hot and dry summers or cold and wet, and possibly snowy, winters.
There are a limited number of direct flights to Greece from other continents so it is best to check with your preferred airlines for the most updated information. Otherwise, you can catch an onward flight from many other European countries.
Greece is famous for its seaside cliffs which often offer magnificent views and overlook beautiful beaches. The Aegean Sea island of Skiathos is but one example. Whilst here, you can bask in the sunshine on sandy beaches, visit the Evangelistria monastery, and get acquainted with the hundreds of herbs that grow on the island.
The name itself is Russian for ‘Easter’ and this alone speaks to how important this dessert is during this celebration. As paskha contains ingredients forbidden during the Lenten fast, it is only eaten on Easter Sunday when fasting has ended. It is often paired with another Easter staple called kulich, which is a sweet bread made using yeast.
Paskha and its ingredients are rather symbolic. It is mainly made of quark (a soft dairy product), representing the purity of Jesus and the happiness brought by His resurrection. The wooden molds used to make paskha are shaped like pyramids and have different symbols on each side, the most significant being XB, which is interpreted as ‘Christos Voskrese’ or ‘Christ is Risen’.
The Russian capital of Moscow is in the GMT+4 time zone, however, considering the size of the country, other cities are in different zones. The entire country uses the Russian Ruble (RUB) as its official currency. The majority of Russia has a humid continental climate but northern areas have a subarctic climate with temperatures dropping to −68°C in extreme winters.
The best way to get into Russia, especially if you are travelling from outside of Europe, is flying to Moscow. Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) is the country’s busiest airport. It is approximately an hour away from the city centre by train.
For a country known for its harsh winters, one can definitely expect a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi is a favorite ski resort of many.
Check out this food selection for a Little Taste of Russia.
United Kingdom: Simnel Cake
Another sweet offering popular during Easter is the simnel cake, most common in the United Kingdom. It was originally made by servant girls to be given to their mothers during Mothering Sunday, also celebrated during the Lenten season, before it became a predominantly Easter Sunday dessert. There are different variations of this marzipan-topped fruitcake but generally they are all made with flour, butter, eggs, sugar, almonds, dried fruits, spices, zest of orange and lemon, and marzipan.
One thing that is conspicuous about simnel cakes are the marzipan balls on top. Some put eleven balls to represent the eleven apostles while others put twelve to include Jesus Christ. If you are wondering why only eleven apostles are counted, tradition dictates not to include Judas.
The UK is known for its rain so be sure to pack an umbrella. Bring some notes in British Pounds (GBP) too as they do not accept Euro (EUR) like most other European Union members. And don’t forget to set your watch to GMT+0 time zone.
The UK can easily be reached by train and ferry when coming from other countries on the continent. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is the country’s largest airport and serves many airlines from around the world. It is 25 kilometres away from central London.
Are you a die-hard fan of Harry Potter and braved the cinema crowds every time a new movie installment was released? If your answer is yes, Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London should be on your must-visit list. You will get to relive your obsession and will be let in to some secrets of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.