5 TIME-HONORED CHRISTMAS FOODS
5 Time-Honored Christmas Foods – Family, togetherness, fun, gifts, music, lights, trees, Santa…these are just a few of the many things we love about Christmas. But we all know Christmas wouldn’t be the same without food! Here are 5 traditional foods that usually make their way into homes during the holiday season.
Does anyone actually eat fruitcake? Maybe. What we do know for sure is that this traditional food is usually the butt of many jokes. Like when Johnny Carson said, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” In all seriousness, the fruitcake came from the ancient Romans.
The first fruitcakes consisted of barley, pomegranate seeds, nuts, and raisins. Honey held everything together. During the 18th and 19th centuries, fruitcakes were made only for special occasions since the ingredients were expensive. During the 20th century, mail-order fruitcakes became a popular holiday gift, and we’ve been stuck with them ever since.
You either love it or hate it, but eggnog is high on the list for traditional Christmas foods. Some eggnog lovers just can’t get enough of this concoction that consists of milk, sugar, and raw eggs. Many people also add spices, such as nutmeg or cloves. Others enjoy an alcoholic version of eggnog.
Historians believe that eggnog came from medieval Britain. The Brits called this hot, milky, ale-like drink “posset.” British monks began making their own version of the drink with eggs and figs. The beverage was often used as a toast to prosperity and good health. American farmers who raised chickens and cows in the 1700s found it an easy drink to make. No one truly knows why people started calling it eggnog. Some speculate the “nog” came from “noggin,” which means a wooden cup.
3. Yule Log
The yule log is a delicious combination of chocolate, cake, and cream filling. This delectable dessert is especially popular in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, and former French colonies, such as the United Kingdom and Spain.
The yule log is part of Celtic culture. During the Winter Solstice, Celts would keep a log burning all night to celebrate the sun’s rebirth. As fireplaces became obsolete, the French came up with this dessert to keep the yule log tradition alive. Over half of the French population has a slice of yule log for Christmas dessert.
4. Gingerbread Men
If you’ve ever made gingerbread men, you might think they are too cute to eat. Queen Elizabeth I didn’t think so, however. It’s the queen that came up with the idea for these cute little cookies. For a special banquet, the queen had her baker make up some gingerbread men to represent foreign dignitaries and people in her court.
Gingerbread men weren’t just popular with royal figures, however. Folk-lore practitioners told young women if they could get their love interest to eat a gingerbread man made for them, the man would fall in love with them. Through the years, the spices in gingerbread have made these cookies popular during the holidays.
5. Christmas Pudding
If you have ever sung the song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” you have sung about “figgy pudding,” which is Christmas pudding. Another name for this popular Christmas dish is plum pudding. (Even though it doesn’t contain any plums). During the 14th century, the British made porridge with beef, mutton, raisins, spices, wines, and currants. This pudding looked more like soup.
Around 1650, plum pudding became the traditional Christmas dessert in England. However, in 1644, the Puritans attempted to ban the delicious dish. They thought Christmas pudding was “sinfully rich” and not fit for God-fearing people to eat. After trying plum pudding, King George I brought it back as a traditional dessert in 1714. It’s been a Christmas favorite ever since.