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Education Phase 3 Religion and food choice
Religion around the world Around the world, people follow different religions. Food is an important part of religious observance for many different religions. Religions which have particular food restrictions or celebrations involving food include: • • Christianity; Islam; Hinduism; Judaism; Sikhism; Buddhism; Seventh-day Adventist Church; Rastafari Movement.
Roles of religion in food choice These include: • to communicate with God (e. g. saying thanks and blessing); • to demonstrate faith through following religious rites concerning diets; • to develop discipline through fasting.
Judaism Jewish people only eat food that is kosher – this means it meets their dietary laws. Dietary laws include: • No pork or shellfish; • Animals must be killed in a kosher way; • Meat and dairy cannot be consumed in the same meal or prepared with the same utensils.
Judaism There a number of Jewish festivals which have particular associated food customs. • Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) - sweet foods are eaten to symbolise a sweet new year, e. g. apple dipped in honey and honey cake. The traditional plaited challot is replaced by round ones, to symbolise the cycle of a the year. • Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) - a day of fasting. • Pesach (Passover) - no leavened food (food which contains yeast) can be eaten for the week. A special unleavened bread called matzah is eaten.
Hinduism Hindus who come from certain areas may be vegetarian and not eat meat, fish or eggs. However some Hindus now eat meat. The only meat they will not eat is beef as the cow is considered to be the most sacred animal. The religious festival Divali marks the end of the Hindu year and the start of a new. Special divali sweets are eaten.
Islam Muslims do not eat pork or any pork product. Other meat that Muslims eat has to be killed in a particular way, making it halal. The following Islamic occasions have certain associated food rituals: • Ramadan - a month of fasting from dawn to sunset. • Eid – Eid-ul-Fitr – day celebrating end of Ramadan Eid ul-Adha – day that celebrates the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah). Eid can be celebrated with special foods shared with friends and family, such as Eid sweets.
Sikhism Sikhs cannot eat ritually killed meat. There are no other restrictions on what Sikhs can eat. Sikhs believe in sharing food. Every gurdwara (place of worship) has a langar (common kitchen). The congregation eats together here after the service. Sikhs also celebrate the festival Divali. For Sikhs it is a festival marking the time when the sixth Guru was released from prison.
Buddhism Buddhists believe in avoiding killing and being kind to all living things. Some Buddhists choose to be vegetarian or vegan because of this. However this is a personal choice. Many Buddhists are not vegetarian. Wesak is a festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Siddhartha (who some people believe to be Buddha). Foods such as eight treasure rice can be eaten on Wesak.
Christianity Christians do not have any restriction over what foods they eat. There a number of occasions in the Church year where special food may be eaten. This includes: • Christmas – a day celebrating the birth of Jesus; • Easter – celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, three days after he was killed. • Shrove Tuesday – Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday prior to Lent, the 40 day period leading up to Easter, where Christians remember the time Jesus fasted in the desert and often give up certain food themselves during this period. Shrove Tuesday was traditionally the last chance to use up the foods Christians would not be eating during Lent (e. g. eggs, fats).
Do you recognise the following foods? Which ones are eaten at Easter? Which ones are eaten at Christmas?
Religion and food traditions around Europe Religious occasions are celebrated differently across Europe, with different traditional foods. France – Christmas • In some parts of France (North and North East), Christmas begins on the feast day of Saint-Nicolas, December the 6 th when Father Christmas (le Père Noël) brings small gifts and sweets for children. • In other parts of the country, children place their shoes by the fire and awake on Christmas day to find them filled with presents from le Père Noël and the tree decorated with fruit, nuts and small toys. • After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (which is less attended nowadays) people gather for a feast called le réveillon, either in a restaurant or at home. This usually consists of oysters, snails, seafood, smoked salmon, or caviar as a starter, followed by goose, or some other roasted bird for the main course. Wine and champagne are served as drinks.
Germany – Christmas • Similar to France, Christmas starts on the night of December 5 th – 6 th (Nikolaustag - St. Nicholas Day) when children leave their shoes or boots outside the front door. If they have been good, Santa Claus, Nikolaus, visits and fills them with chocolates, oranges and nuts. • The Germans often have special baking evenings for making spiced cakes, cookies and gingerbread houses. The German Christmas tree pastry, das Christbaumgebäck, is a white dough which is moulded into shapes and baked to make tree decorations. • On Christmas Eve, there is an evening feast, generally of carp and potato salad - meat is avoided for religious reasons. • Christmas day dishes include suckling pig or roasted goose, white sausage, macaroni salad, and regional dishes. Sweet foods such as der Christstollen (long loaves of bread with nuts, raisins, lemon and dried fruit), der Lebkuchen (ginger spice cookies) and Dresdner Stollen (a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit and marzipan) are also consumed.
Poland - Christmas • Early on in the day of Wigilia (Christmas Eve), the women of the family start preparing the meal, which traditionally consists of twelve meatless dishes, and includes many kinds of fish, beet or mushroom soup, various dishes made from cabbage, mushrooms, or potatoes, pierogi, followed by dried fruit compote and pastries for dessert. • When the first star, gwiazdka, appears in the night sky, the meal can finally begin. A prayer is said first and then the ancient and beloved Polish Christmas tradition of sharing the Optalek (the Christmas wafer). • The oplatek is a thin wafer made of flour and water. The head of the house starts by breaking the wafer with his wife and then continues to share with everyone at the Wigilia table. Wishes for peace and prosperity are exchanged as the wafer is shared.
United Kingdom – Pancake Day Shrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In the United Kingdom, it is traditional to eat pancakes on this day. This is because traditionally, pancakes were made to use up all the eggs, milk and butter before the start of the Lenten fast.
Poland – Fat Thursday Poland start their festivities almost a week earlier than the UK, on the Thursday prior to Shrove Tuesday. The most popular tradition in Poland on Fat Thursday is the making and eating pączeks, a filled baked good in a round shape, fried in fat. There a wide variety of possible fillings including plum butter, marmalades and whipped cream.
Iceland – Sprengidagur In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salted meat and peas. Denmark – Fastelavn is celebrated on either the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Eating fastelavnsboller which are buns made from pastry dough and decorated with icing, commonly marks the day. Children beat a barrel which is filled with sweets (similar to a piñata).
Scandinavia - Saint Lucy’s/Lucia’s Day Although celebrated in other parts of the world, Saint Lucy’s day is especially celebrated in Scandinavia (e. g. Sweden). The 13 th of December is the feast day of Saint Lucy. A popular food eaten at Saint Lucy’s day are Lussekatts (St Lucy's day buns) which are buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast.