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It’s not Easter or the Passover without the Paschal Lamb

rosemary bumble bee

Above: A bee enjoys the newly blossomed flowers of a wild rosemary bush in Italy. Springtime, Easter, and Passover are marked by a renewal of life.

In Italy, the Easter celebration is considered by many to be more important than Christmas. In fact, until the time of Napoleon’s conquest of Italy, in many Italian city states, the new year was not observed after Christmas as it is today, but around Easter.

Today in Italy, Easter Sunday is a time when families gather to renew their ties and to spend a restful day together sharing a family meal.

Easter and the Passover are not just celebrations of our yearly liturgy. They are also celebrations of springtime and the renewal of life — spiritual and natural — that comes every year.

And no Easter feast or Passover seder is complete without a “Paschal Lamb.” The word paschal comes, in fact, from the ancient Hebrew word pesach, meaning to pass over or to spring over. This is just another indication of how the Christian and Jewish traditions share their origins.

As we do for Easter Sunday every year at Ciao Bello, we’ll be serving lamb with the classic southern Italian seasonings: crushed rosemary and mint and a generous basting of garlic-infused olive oil.

It’s a recipe that I learned many years ago when I first traveled to Sicily to celebrate Easter with my cousins there. And when my children were old enough to travel, I began taking them as well. I’ll never forget the year my son Jeff took part in the preparation of our Paschal lamb. It’s one of my fondest memories.

Happy Easter and hag sameach (happy [Passover] festival) to all of our friends! May your springtime and “new year” be filled with joy and health.

—Tony Vallone

Please join us for a classic Easter brunch at Ciao Bello, Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. For event details and reservation information, please call (713) 960-0333.

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