It is an age-old custom, handed down from pre-Christian times, to eat the meat of this animal on festive occasions. Thus the English and Scandinavians ate boar meat and the Germans and Slavs roast pork on Christmas Day. Also, in many parts of Europe roast pork is still the traditional main dish at weddings and on major feast days. At Easter, smoked or cooked ham, as well as lamb, has been eaten by most European nations from ancient times, and is the traditional Easter dish from coast to coast in this country. Roast pork is another traditional main dish in some countries.

The nations of central and eastern Europe have other traditional Easter foods, prepared on the last days of Holy Week, blessed by the priest on Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday, and solemnly displayed on a festive table for Easter Week meals. This blessed Easter fare is called Weihessen (blessed food) in Germany and Austria, Swiecone or Swieconka (sanctified) among the Ukrainians and Poles. The figure of the Easter lamb, which rests on a bedding of evergreen twigs, is surrounded by colored Easter eggs. Around this centerpiece are arranged other foods in great variety and large amounts: Easter breads, meats, sausages, salads, cheese, pastry, spices, and fruit. The whole table and every dish on it are decorated with garlands and clusters of leaves, herbs, and flowers. It would be impossible to include in one small book the traditional Easter fare of every nationality. Here are a few of the better-known dishes:

The Russian Easter bread (paska) is made of flour, cottage cheese, sugar, raisins, eggs, and milk. It is put in a mold and shaped in firm, square pieces, about eight inches high, with a cross on each side, and the letters J. C. (Jesus Christ) imprinted in relief. In Germany and Austria the Easter bread is made with milk, eggs, and raisins, and baked in oblong loaves of twisted or braided strands (Osterstollen). Another kind of Austrian Easter bread is the Osterlaib (Easter loaf), a large, flat round loaf marked with the cross or an image of the lamb. In some parts of Ireland people eat on Easter Sunday "Golden bread" which is very similar to our French toast.

A favorite Easter pastry in Poland are the mazurki, originating in the province of Mazuria, which are very sweet cakes made with honey and filled with nuts and fruit. The most popular of the coffee cakes in Poland and other countries, too, is called baba, a provincialism for woman. The cake is always baked in a fluted pan. It resembles the skirt of a woman. Babka, a word commonly used for grandmother, is the same cake but in a smaller size. Babecska is the diminution of the word. Small rolls or cupcakes are called babeczki. Here is a good recipe for Easter baba (Baba Wielkanocna):

1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. almond flavoring
1 /4 cup lukewarm milk
1 cup chopped almonds
2 yeast cakes
1 c chopped orange citron
1/2 cup plus 1 tabl. sugar
& lemon peel
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted butter
15 egg yolks
bread crumbs

Scald the milk. Slowly add three-quarters cup flour to hot milk and beat thoroughly. Cool. Dissolve yeast in quarter cup of milk and a tablespoon of sugar and add to cooled mixture. Beat well. Let rise until double in bulk. Add salt to eggs and beat until thick and lemon-colored. Add sugar and continue to beat. Add to sponge with flavoring and remaining flour. Knead for ten minutes. Add butter and continue kneading for ten more minutes or until dough leaves the fingers. Add almonds and citron peels and mix well. Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down and let rise again. Punch down and put into fluted tube pan. Butter the pan, press blanched almonds around the sides and bottom. Sprinkle with fine bread crumbs. Fill with dough to cover one-third of the pan and let rise one hour. Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with colored sugar or baker's confetti.

Another delightful Easter delicacy are the Papal Wafers, called Sucharki Papieskie:

2/3 cup butter
1 whole egg
7 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda

Cream butter, add alternately one egg yolk and one tablespoon sugar and beat well. Add the whole egg. Add flour and baking soda. Mix well. Put on floured board, roll to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with round cookie cutter. Bake on well buttered baking sheet in 375 degrees oven for 12 to 15 minutes.[62]

An Austrian pastry is the Weihkuchen (blessed cake) made of flour, oil, milk, butter, and honey. The people of Transylvania bake their ham in a cover of bread dough. The Hungarian Easter meat loaf is made of chopped pork, ham, eggs, bread, and spices.

About thirty years ago breweries in Norway started to make a special Easter beer (Paskelbrygg), a blend of the best beers made locally. It became very popular, and today Paskelbrygg is a favorite addition to traditional Easter fare in Scandinavia.

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