I’ve only recently come to understand that ham on Easter is a well-established tradition. It wasn’t so in our family, and not I suppose with the people we knew. Maybe it just never came up. Having had a particularly good ham at church yesterday, I thought I would do a little research.
The answers I found were varied. Those disinclined to credit religion with anything say that it was simply coincidence. Pigs were slaughtered at about that time and there was no way to preserve the meat, so they ate it. Those who are particularly critical of Christianity or who see racism under every rock claim it was a slap in the face of Jews, who do not eat port and who celebrate Passover at roughly the same time. The anti-pagan crusaders among us add it to the list of things we shouldn’t do because of their pagan origins. Heres the sanest article I found, much of which makes sense to me.
That the word Easter has pagan origin is really not in dispute. It is also well known that the Catholic Church adjusted celebration of “Christian” events to coincide with pagan festivals. The author of the article I linked to make good points about worshiping God in the ways which He has set out. I will be giving that more thought, but I will not condemn my brothers and sisters who genuinely worship the Lord on these days or who use the term Easter. I choose generally not to. The term is too closely tied to the worship of a pagan fertility goddess going back beyond the time of Israel’s nationhood and serving as a snare for them, diverting them from the worship of the one true God, Yahweh.
As for ham, what I thought I might find but didn’t was symbolism related to unclean foods and the acceptance of the Gentile. Jesus Himself pronounced all foods clean (Mark 7:18-19.) The Lord would then use this as a symbol for the acceptance of the Gentile in the vision He gave to Peter just before they came calling at the place where he was staying (Acts 10.) Peter went with them, preached the Gospel, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. So eating ham on Resurrection Sunday might be seen as a celebration of our acceptance into the family of God. That’s definitely how I will think of it from now on.