(Blame any rambling on a fever I've been carrying around with me since yesterday afternoon.)
Because we will not be together in body for the actual date reserved for the celebration that is Easter Sunday, our little family will have an "Easter dinner" this coming Sunday. And of course when this is mentioned the first thought is: Ham. Yes, 'tis true, that when even the not-so-religious contemplate Easter they think of ham. Pork as resurrection meal. It's always been a bit head spinning for me.
I grew up spending Easter in Chicago. We would trek all the way from the city to the suburbs to find a church of the Reformed persuasion where we could celebrate our Lord's Resurrection. I still can envision the visible thoughts on the faces of the usual attendees as we marched in reeking of the stale smoke that permeated our hair and even our Sunday best courtesy of two chain-smoking grandparents. This was not the norm at all in Elmhurst.
After the long drive back, I would be greeted at the base of the stairs to my granparents' home with the sweet smell of ham and assorted other steamy-aired scents. This was a feast as it was time to break with Lent and wholeheartedly ingest copious amounts of meat. And though I now shudder with my nose curled up at this mental picture (and the really odd reasoning behind it)...part of Easter dinner included a big plate of butter in the shape of a lamb. There was a cake in the shape of a lamb too. Imagine this loud, smoke-filled group plying butter from this molded dairy image.
But ham. Just today, then, Madeline asked "why do we eat ham at Easter?" It's certainly no Judaic tradition unless somehow the Israelites had figured out how to make ham kosher. And it's really nothing mentioned anywhere in terms of Christian tradition. Interestingly, when looking for information for Miss 1000 Questions, some have suggested some sort of pagan tie-in. More plausible, however, is the idea that a pig slaughtered in the fall and cured/smoked would still be "good" and most definitely ready to eat come this time of year. Perhaps ham simply because it was practical....as opposed to the lack of practicality in standing outside a HoneyBaked store hoping there's a ham left for your Easter feast.