In many European countries, there are various traditions surrounding the use of bread during the Easter holiday.
In Sardinia, Italy, bread is a part of a wide social context. It is the most important food in Sardinia, as well as all over Italy and the Mediterranean. "Bread is a nexus of economic, political, aesthetic, social, symbolic, and health concernts" (Counihan, p.29). Bread is symbolic for life. A peasant proverb mentions, "Chie hat pane mai non morit - one who has bread never dies" (Counihan, p.29). The Easter holiday is one where bread brings itself into the symbolic realm. Bread is significant for religious purposes. Luisa Fois described bread in her life after she was married and for the Easter holiday. The bread was made into a cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Since they were married, they needed to eat it together. They would share their lives now, and they must share their "cross" together (their life's burden) as well. "Bread was a product of their union, and its shared consumption reaffirmed their interdependence" (Counihan, p.30). From this we gather than bread also displays a message, rather than being an item purely for consumption and nutritional purposes. Two kinds of Easter Bread are described in Counihans article. One contained two points, and an egg covered with a cross. "The egg and the points that recall birds in flight speak of fertility, sexuality, and procreation - basic themes in Easter and its pagan precursors" (Counihan, p.41). The second bread was designed to have no overall shape, but was rather baked to encircle an egg, with the initials "BP" put on it. The initials BP stand for Buona Pasqua or Happy Easter. "Letters rather than forms express meaning. Letters are symbolic of civilization and ... meaning" (Counihan, p.41).
Russia, Belarus, Ukraine
- Counihan, Carole. The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power. New York: Routledge, 1999.
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