Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Almighty Butter Lamb

It's Easter Sunday, which can only mean one thing--the return of the Butter Lamb.

For those of you who've never heard about this magical holiday creature, let me back up and explain. A Butter Lamb is butter molded into the shape of a lamb, decorated with peppercorn eyes and a red ribbon necktie. It also has a red plastic "Alleluia!" flag sticking out of its butt. Kind of like the religious springtime version of Frosty the Snowman. The Butter Lamb is apparently a Polish Catholic tradition (shocking that it ended up at a table full of EYE-talians!) with its roots in Buffalo. The Broadway Market began selling Butter Lambs to herald the beginning of spring, and the tradition has continued for years and years.

Picture it--you're sitting around the dinner table with a soft hunk of Italian bread in your hand. You want to smother your bread in butter because butter is so obviously better than margarine. You reach toward the butter, knife in hand...and carve a giant slice from the Butter Lamb's right flank.

Weird, right?


I totally understand that lambs are symbols for both spring and Easter, but who on earth decided that spring/Easter needs to be represented by animal-shaped butter? In essence, we are taking something that comes from one animal and molding it in the shape of another animal. It's kind of like molding a ham into the shape of a goat. Wouldn't it make more sense to remain true to butter's milky origin and create a Butter Calf instead? Wait--were there cows wandering around Jerusalem in 33 A.D.? There must have been, since a fatted one was slaughtered in honor of the Prodigal Son's return. So why isn't there a fattening Butter Calf on my family's Easter table?

That being said, I love the Butter Lamb specifically for its nonsensical weirdness. I mean, how many other foods do you eat that remind you to rejoice? Alleluia, Butter Lamb! Alleluia! I truly rejoice in the Butter Lamb's arrival every Easter and I mourn its loss when the butter is gone and only the peppercorn eyeballs remain.
Farewell, sweet Butter Lamb! I'll see you next April! 

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