Easter is the most important day of the liturgical year for Catholics because Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection complete our salvation. I didn’t realize how important it was when I was younger, but as I got older and observed the different traditions during the season I grew to appreciate Easter more.
One big tradition I’ve loved for as long as I can remember is making resurrection cookies on Holy Saturday with a recipe my mom found online. She was into “liturgical living” before it was a cool Catholic mom thing!
The recipe is full of spiritual symbolism from the ingredients to the baking process and optional scripture readings to accompany it.
The first step is to take a cup of whole pecans in a plastic bag and beat it with a wooden spoon. We would then read John 19:1-3, which describes the soldiers beating Jesus.
Next, the meringue base is made with vinegar, egg whites, a sprinkle of salt and a cup of sugar. The passages for these steps are, respectively, John 19:28-30, John 10:10-11, Luke 23:7, and Psalm 34:8 as well as John 3:16.
The vinegar represents the drink Jesus was given while crucified, the egg whites represent new life and purity, the salt represents the tears shed and reminds us of the bitterness of our own sins, and the sugar represents the sweetness of the story of our salvation.
At that point, the ingredients are a yellowish mess, but when combined with the next step — blending it all together — they begin to form the pure white meringue, describing how we are transformed and cleansed of our sins by Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
Reading Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3 reminds us once we repent and are forgiven, God sees our souls as pure as the fluffy white meringue.
The last preparation step is to fold in the broken nuts and make little mounds on a baking sheet, which represents how Jesus was laid in a tomb.
The baking happens after placing the cookies in a preheated oven and turning it off. One thing that many people like about this recipe is that it’s — usually — foolproof because it bakes itself! Once in the oven, you can tape the door shut as a symbol of Jesus being laid in the tomb and read Matthew 27:57-60.
After being around the delicious smell of the meringue, it’s difficult to leave the cookies in the oven overnight, but this is key for their baking because they rise and set with the heat from the preheated oven. Although you can make these cookies at any point during the Easter season, it’s most impactful to do it from Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday because they’re done baking overnight and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor and the fruits of your salvation at the same time.
Similarly, the disciples wept for having to leave Jesus and not being able to see him after the tomb was sealed. Reading John 16:20 and 22 puts this experience into perspective.
I remember being so excited to eat them once we came back from Easter Mass — or maybe for breakfast if you go on Saturday or later! The last cherry on top of the tradition is to observe that the inside of the cookie is hollow, which means the tomb is empty!
Just like Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb empty on Easter morning in Matthew 28:1-9, you will also be amazed at how delicious your hard work is. And, more importantly, the joy of hearing the words, “He has risen just as He said.”
This is one of my favorite Easter traditions to share with people because not only are the cookies deliciously addicting, but the concept is adorable, especially for families with young kids. It was honestly one of the highlights of my childhood.
If you decide to share this tradition, you can find the recipe online. Happy eating and Happy almost Easter!