Why was ham chosen as the traditional Easter dinner meat?

This question came up at our Easter dinner today.

Thanksgiving in the US has turkey as its traditional meat, and Easter in the US has ham.

Is there any reason ham was chosen instead of, say a delicious steak?

One wag’s hypothesis said it had something to do with the fact that ham is a prohibited meat for Jews, thereby making the Easter holiday firmly a Christian holiday. I’m skeptical.

You can find several different theories, including pagan connections to Tammuz being killed by a wild pig. I highly doubt it.

I tend more towards this:

from 28 Traditional Easter Foods From Around the World

Feeding stock is more expensive in the winter. Hay has to be gathered, dried, and stored, and grain needs even more processing. Much better to slaughter the stock in the fall and preserve it as best you can. You only want to keep the dairy and breeding stock over the winter, so come spring, you don’t have any stock on the hoof that you want to butcher.

You will be down to just the meat that kept the best, like that smoked ham you were saving in case you got snowed in…now that you made it through the winter, you can consume that safety net.

Availability would make sense - and also explains why my Irish mother insists one should eat lamb. However she had very mixed reactions when I suggested that I might stew a (very available) rabbit for myself, to precede my chocolate rabbit!

I’d agree; it’s most likely because as a cured meat ham was available in the spring. You probably wouldn’t want to slaughter livestock that had made it through the winter before breeding them in the spring; it would be too soon to slaughter new offspring. So ham would be a pretty logical choice. Turkey makes sense in the fall, when the birds have been fattening up on acorn and nut crops.

Simple answer ham Is not THE traditional Easter meal. There IS no one traditional Easter meal.

Practically everybody has turkey at Thanksgiving, but ham isn’t NEARLY as widespread at Easter. Lamb is at least as prevalent, where I come from, while roast turkey and roast beef are quite common, too.

For the first Easter, the earliest Christians sat at an outdoor table overlooking the Jewish Holy land. One guy walks up with some ham which they had never seen before because of their upbringing. One person tastes it. “Jesus Christ this good.”. Another tastes it and says “You are Goddamn right.” From there the traditional was established.

I would go with the cured ham was available and more a treat than say the pickled pig hocks or pickled beef. You’re lucky if you’ve never experienced pickled beef from a canning jar. It’s not like it’s written in stone that you will eat ham for Easter, so it comes down to preferences of food people like for a special meal, and that is influenced some by what your special meals were as a kid. Ham feeds a lot of people easily too, as opposed to making 40 Cornish hens for the meal.

Heh, heh. I knew I could count on you guys.

I like the explanation that most respondents provided – that ham was frequently eaten at Easter simply because it was available. Either because it was done curing or was the only edible meat left after a long winter.

Not that it matters, but for the record, we actually had lamb chops instead of ham for our Easter dinner. Delicious!

I’ve heard a theory that it started out as a way to differentiate Easter from Passover, by eating a food at Easter that is not going to be eaten by Jews at Passover.

I made Chinese Lemon Chicken for Easter dinner. :slight_smile:

Because the little known Easter Pig originally came around to give kiddies tasty treats before the damn bunny stole his action.

I wish I liked rabbit, because if I did I would have made Easter Rabbit every year when my kids were growing up. But I don’t, so I didn’t.

This year we had Easter Meatloaf.

Reading newspaper articles from the last 100+ years would make me tend to agree with this. While we might think that ham is “traditional” in the last 20-50 years, it ain’t necessarily so as a long-standing tradition.