All over the world, people will spend the next few months preparing for various holiday celebrations. No matter the geographic location, the holiday being celebrated, or the company you are in, food will likely play a major role in your festivities. We thought it would be fun to showcase a few culinary traditions from around the globe.
Christmas in Europe
Did you know the practice of sending Christmas cards began in the United Kingdom during the mid 1800s? At the time, Christmas was not considered a work holiday and people who left rural areas to work in cities would not have enough time to return home for the holiday. Greeting cards were a way for people to send their holiday well wishes to loved ones.
Instead of exchanging Christmas cards, people in Bavaria (southern Germany and Austria) would exchange Springerle Cookies. Springerle date as far back as the 14th century. The cookies are traditionally anise-flavored and are made using intricately carved molds that are pressed into the dough, leaving gorgeous designs in these firm, yet tender cookies. Reviving this tradition sounds like a great idea to us! Using Anise Oil is traditional, but any flavor that suits can be added. If you’re interested in trying your hand at these cookies, be sure to check out the spectacular array of Springerle molds and rolling pins at House On The Hill.
In Jewish homes, families will prepare to celebrate Chanukah (Hanukkah). This holiday focuses on the miracle of a small bottle of oil that lit a menorah for 8 nights.
Chanukah is a reminder to persevere even when the odds are against you. To honor that tiny bit of oil, it is common to see fried desserts at Chanukah celebrations. Sufganiyot (Hebrew for doughnuts) are the most popular. The filled doughnuts are rolled in cinnamon-sugar and are a simple and tasty way to celebrate the miracle of the oil.
Tip: Using cinnamon mixed with vanilla sugar will add extra rich flavor to the sweet topping. Other classic Chanukah desserts include Chocolate Babka and Rugelach.
Christmastide is celebrated for a two week period beginning January 7, which is the day the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas, and ends January 19 on the Epiphany, the day that Jesus’ baptism is celebrated. Many Russian families will celebrate by baking a Krendel. This traditional Russian Christmas bread is made from yeast dough and filled with an array of dried fruits.
Since Christmastide happens during the cold Russian winter, gathering around a bonfire is a common occurrence. Start your own Christmastide tradition with a blazing bonfire and a steaming cup of Spiced Mulled Wine to warm you inside and out.
Christmas in Mexico
In Mexico, Christmas festivities begin on December 16th, which kicks off Las Posadas. This festival lasts nine days and includes a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey in which a couple dressed in biblical garb is followed by a procession of neighbors and friends.
The group visits a succession of houses where they are told there’s no room at each of the homes, with the exception of the final one of the evening. That house hosts a party that includes a Piñata for the kids and an array of traditional foods including, tacos, sweet breads, Mexican hot chocolate, and churros. This recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies, made with natural Jalapeño Flavor for a touch of heat, is perfectly suited for your own Las Posadas celebration.
South African Summer Holiday
Located in the southern hemisphere, South Africa is enjoying summer at this time. The warmer weather makes Christmas Day the perfect opportunity for a picnic. As South Africa was a former British colony, many holiday traditions are shared with the UK, like singing Christmas carols, making a Christmas pudding and baking “biscuits” (what we in the US call cookies).
Soetkoekies are an excellent holiday biscuit that will pack up perfectly in your picnic basket. These sweet crispy cookies are Dutch-influenced and are traditionally made with ground spices and sweet wine.
Tip: Try using Cookie Butter Bakery Emulsion in place of the dried spices. The flavor profile is a luscious combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves that will be perfect in this recipe.
Chinese New Year
Even after January 1st, there is still more celebrating to do. Chinese New Year lasts 15 days and includes family reunions, dragon dances, fireworks, and you guessed it, more food. In Korea, a favorite Chinese New Year treat is Kkwabaegi which starts with a basic yeast dough that is twisted and fried.
Tip: Adding 1 tsp. of Cinnamon Spice Bakery Emulsion to the dough will give an extra kick of cinnamon flavor to these Korean twisted doughnut.
Whichever holiday you celebrate, and whatever goodies grace your table, everyone here at LorAnn Oils wishes you a safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for an incredible New Year. Cheers!
The World Book Encyclopedia, “Christmas Around the World,” 533.
The World Book Encyclopedia, Commemorative Edition., “Christmas Around the World.” Chicago: World Book, 2017.
Gode Cookery.com “A Brief History of Springerle”. http://www.godecookery.com/cookies/history.html
Shoyer, Paula. “The Holiday Kosher Baker.” Canada: Sterling Publishing. 2013. 66-67
The Spruce.com. “Seven Russian Christmas and New Year Traditions to Share with your Children.” https://www.thespruce.com/russian-christmas-and-new-year-traditions-27278
Little Passports.com “Mexican Christmas Traditions: Las Posadas”. https://www.littlepassports.com/blog/world-holidays/mexican-christmas-tradition/
Why Christmas.com. “Christmas in South Africa.” https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/south_africa.shtml