What are your holiday traditions?
Holiday traditions are shaped by heritage, geography, economics, and circumstance.
Many Italians celebrate on Christmas Eve with a Feast of Seven Fishes. The origin of this is debated. Some say it comes from the number of sacraments in the Catholic Church; others claim it relates to the phase of the moon (seven days).
People have asked me what food traditions we have in our home. I’d like to share a few of our Christmas traditions with you and how they evolved.
When I was a child, we celebrated on Christmas Eve with a meatless meal of Oyster Stew and a table laden with holiday cookies and shrimp cocktail—an odd combination. The Oyster Stew and shrimp cocktail were a nod to the religious “fast” from meat prior to a holiday. But the table of cookies and candy? Purely circumstance. My father was a Rural Mail Carrier and delivered mail to farmers throughout the area. His patrons left gifts of their favorite homemade cookies and candies for him as a Christmas gift each year. My mother, being a wise woman, knew our waistlines were in danger from this abundance of sweet treats. Solution: share them with our extended family that celebrated Christmas Eve with us!
Today, we celebrate during Christmastime with one meal of appetizers, savory not sweet, which often spring from dishes we discovered on a vacation.
When my husband was a child, his family celebrated with a scaled-down version of the Seven Fishes, but the meal always included smelts and pasta with seafood. The reward for the young ones who would have rather had spaghetti and meatballs? They came home after Midnight Mass to a snack of pizza with sausage.
Today? Yes, some years our family indulges in pizza after Midnight.
The regions of Italy have different versions and recipes for a fried powder-sugar topped pastry. Some recipes include Prosecco or Pinot Grigio as an ingredient, and others use pizza dough. We simply call it Fried Dough.
On Christmas morning in our home, the youngest children have the honor and duty of waking up everyone else. And no peeking to see if Santa came in the night! (Well, maybe a tiny peek.)
After everyone is awake, we wander downstairs in our Christmas pajamas or sweatpants and T shirts.
Next? Coffee, of course!
After presents have been opened and Christmas stockings emptied, we return to the Italian tradition of making Fried Dough.
What are your traditions? Isn’t it fun when traditions evolve over time?