DENVER, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Although fresh, American lamb is available — and delicious — all year round, lamb consumption in the U.S. rises significantly in the Springtime. In fact, nearly 20 percent of U.S. lamb consumption occurs during the Spring and sales more than double as families around the country gather for Easter and Passover holidays.
Traditionally this seasonal association was tied to the sheep's natural gestation period. Sheep bred in the fall and winter, so lambs were born in the Spring. Although modern farming techniques mean that these days lambs are born all year round, celebrating the arrival of spring by eating lamb is still a tradition that spans many cultures and religions.
Because of its Springtime history, the lamb has been a symbol of the renewal of life that is so abundant in spring, from the birth of animals to the blossoming of dormant plants. For many cultures, eating, or even just meeting, a lamb is considered good luck for the coming year. The lamb has religious significance as a symbol of rebirth and renewal in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The eating of lamb for Passover dates back to the very first Passover, where a sacrificial lamb was roasted whole over a fire and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. For many Jewish families, lamb is still an important part of the Passover meal and lamb shank is a traditional favorite.
The significance of lamb is also part of Christian traditions, as a symbol of sacrifice as well as rebirth. During the Middle Ages roast lamb became the traditional main course of the Pope's Easter dinner and lamb is still an important part of the Easter meal. Leg of lamb and rack of lamb are the most popular cuts for Easter celebrations.
Find easy-at-home American Lamb recipes for Easter, Passover and Spring celebrations throughout the season, including these meals:
About the American Lamb Board
The American Lamb Board is an industry-funded research and promotions commodity board that represents all sectors of the American Lamb industry including producers, feeders, seed stock producers and processors. The Board, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is focused on increasing demand by promoting the freshness, flavor, nutritional benefits, and culinary versatility of American Lamb. The work of the American Lamb Board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the board's programs are supported and implemented by the staff in Denver, Colorado.
SOURCE American Lamb Board