For many Australians of different religions, Easter Sunday wouldn’t be complete without the family getting together for a lamb roast. Lamb, traditionally cooked in a roasting pan with roasted potatoes and squash, or in a Mediterranean-inspired dish with ingredients like garlic, olives, and lemon, remains the quintessential Easter Sunday feast meat.
The origins of eating lamb at Easter can be traced back to the first Jewish Passover when believers would roast a sacrificial lamb and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in the hope that angels of God would cross their homes to ensure the people inside suffer harmlessly. When some Hebrews converted to Christianity, they kept the tradition, so many Christians – who often refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God – put a special emphasis on meat. Many Western countries, especially European ones, still place special emphasis on the Easter lamb.
In France, grilled lamb chops, then the main meal, and then the special Easter cake. In Greece, whole lambs are roasted in a rotisserie and the innards of the animal are used to make a hearty soup.
In Australia, it was common practice in the early to mid-20th century to have a hot lunch after church every Sunday. It’s a nod to the nation’s abundant supply of sheep and extends the Easter custom into everyday life.