Easter is not just a feast, but what is known as a moveable feast. While Christmas is always on December 25th, the date of Easter moves around, as Easter Day is always on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.
That means the date can be well before the end of March, or over a month away on April 25th. Indeed, this latest Easter date will next occur in 2038.
This year’s Easter won’t be quite so late, but in falling on April 17th, it will come on a weekend sure to be lighter and hopefully sunnier and warmer - though one never knows with the British weather - than dates in late March or early April.
All that means spring will be flourishing and it should be a great time for a get-together, a wonderful occasion for a nice free range turkey.
True, the tasty and protein-rich white meat of a turkey is traditionally the fayre dished up at Christmas while the family pull crackers and then move on to figgy pudding, presents and the Queen’s Speech. But it also makes for a great Sunday roast at any time of the year, so why not that Sunday?
Of course, just as Christmas has its own food traditions, so too does Easter. No doubt there will be plenty of hot cross buns eaten over the four-day weekend and it is a racing certainty that chocolate eggs the size of Norfolk will be readily devoured.
However, toasted buns and chocolate are clearly not enough to keep anyone fed over a full weekend, so this is definitely a cue to have a nice roast.
Of course, some might note that this is ironic, since the imagery around Easter often features fluffy, freshly-hatched chicks, with no thought of how they might end up being next year’s dinner. But then again, the same might be true of spring lambs and there will be plenty tucking into a nice braised shank on Easter weekend too.
The fact that it is easy to find lots of ‘Easter Turkey’ recipes out there is proof that this moveable feast is just as conducive to a stuffed bird as Christmas is. Besides, why restrict your turkey consumption to late December? That wouldn’t happen with roast potatoes, although some might be quite happy for this to be the approach with sprouts.
By its very nature, Easter is a holiday celebrated very differently. To some, it is the highpoint of the Christian calendar and a time of reverence, reflection and spirituality. To some, it is a chance for a big weekend getaway. Others may combine these. There are many traditions, but lots of variety too.
Add to that the variable timing and the likely meteorological consequences (notwithstanding the fine late March weather this year) and it is clear to see why there really isn’t a set way to spend Easter in the ways that apply to Christmas.
So, as Easter approaches this year, now may be a great time to get a turkey and enjoy the holiday in the middle of spring in great style. The weather cannot be guaranteed, but a great lunch can.