Why Do We Eat Ham on Easter?

Published 02-13-2020

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Certain holidays go hand-in-hand with certain foods - like turkey on Thanksgiving, for example. Ham on Easter is another one. But is there any real reason why we tend to eat ham on Easter, aside from tradition?

The reason ham is traditionally eaten at Easter is actually because it's in season! Historically, pigs were usually slaughtered in the fall, when it's chilly outside and the cold could keep the meat fresh during the several days it would take to break down and prepare the hog. (It's also widely believed that pigs slaughtered after the first frost taste better, because they've been grazing on acorns and insect-free grass.) The hams would be cured over the winter and be ready to eat by the time spring rolled around.

Another reason for ham's inclusion in the Easter feast is size. A single ham is usually enough to feed a large group of people, so it's ideal for a big family dinner such as Easter.

A couple other fun facts: Lamb is also a popular Easter protein for a similar reason - sheep tend to be born in the early days of spring, making them ideal for slaughter and consumption right around Eastertime. And we also eat turkeys on Thanksgiving due to seasonal factors - their hormone levels change as their bodies prepare for the winter, so they're fatter.

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