Why Do American Christians Ham it up on Easter?
I never had ham on Easter until I was a guest at American homes.
As an English immigrant, my parents kept up the tradition of roast lamb, potatoes, veggies and mint sauce. Hot cross buns are traditional but those in the U.S. have a different texture-- I don’t know enough about baking to say more. Hershey’s chocolate eggs were pretty good but not quite the same as Cadbury’s. Fortunately, I’m not too discriminating when it comes to milk chocolate (BBC link).
But the ham- why ham? It seems so in-your-face wrong. Obviously Jesus was a Jew as were his disciples. Surely they ate lamb at the Last Supper. And celebrating Jesus resurrection with a lamb just seems right. By eating ham, Christians might make it clear that Jews and Muslims aren’t welcome to this Christian meal.
If you search the web for Easter foods, you’ll find lots of references to that blend of pagan “Easter” traditions celebrating an old Anglo-Saxon goddess “Eostre” and symbols of rabbits and eggs representing the new birth of Spring (northern hemisphere only of course). Anyway, the idea of eggs and rabbits in Spring go way back in time.
But what about ham? Well it seems Northern Europeans slaughtered pigs in winter and prepared the meat-- salted and smoked. By spring it was ready to eat. They brought their tradition to America and it stuck along with eggs and rabbits. So ham does not seem to have any religious significance when it comes to Easter in the USA (unless you add a special meaning to your meat).
You wondered about Peeps? Well, apparently they come from a Russian immigrant, Sam Born, who initiated the brand in 1917 (USAToday).
Oh, Canadians are Americans too though people in the US tend to forget that other North American country. Easter there seems about the same as in England but you’ll find ham on Canadian menus too (story link).
Whatever you eat, it's good to remember to celebrate with family and friends. Easter is after all a celebration of the resurrection. The Spirit of God brings new life to individuals and relationships.
p.s. Some Hindus and Buddhists eat some meats. Some are vegetarians. Always best to ask.