A few years ago, I was trying to 'veganize the holidays' and thought it would be a fun task to try to conjure up family recipes and put together a little recipe/cook book to refer to and pass down for generations to come...I came up with only a few recipes during my quest to try and veganize tradition (oh the irony...) but I'm re-inspired again this holiday season!
I started thinking about what is the actual traditional Thanksgiving dinner, since it's become so fancy over the recent years...and what do people really serve on Christmas? Do they eat a dinner on Christmas Eve or is it on the actual Day? Or do they do what we did and usually just have a fun breakfast after we opened our presents? What is the American Tradition of the Holidays? What have those, who celebrate Christmas, been doing all these years?
A quick little Wikipedia search shed some light, and I thought I might share it with you, if you're like me and you love food and celebration of family and love!:)
Thanksgiving. The first Feast happened in 1961 between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth County, right down the street from us Cape Codders! Naturally, they feasted on their locally sourced food. To my surprise the menu included many things that I wouldn't have thought to be associated with the Thanksgiving table.
They ate: turkey, waterfowl (geese, duck), venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash....really?!
It goes on to tell how it's changed, and based on different cultures, you might see cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, green beans/casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, dumplings or noodles, deviled eggs, sauerkraut (in Baltimore), cornbread (in the south or new england), peas and carrots, bread rolls, rutabegas or turnips and a salad. Pie is often mincemeat, apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, or pecan (my fave!). Interesting, huh?
A few other interesting tidbits being that the Southerners, or African Americans may serve baked mac and cheese and collard greens at their table, while Italian-Americans may serve lasagna, Who knew!? (not me obvs)
As for Christmas, the dishes tend to be similar to Thanksgiving in America. Wikipedia provides an extensive list of all the different countries' traditional menus. In America, it is common to see:
The main dish being a Christmas Ham, (This came from the Germanic peoples as a tribute to harvest and fertility, and later was popularized by the Catholic Church as a test of truthful conversion from Judaism...hmph!), turkey, duck/goose/pheasant, oyster stew, fish (from the feast of the seven fishes originating from the Italian culture, celebrating on Christmas Eve), dungeness Crab in California, and prime Rib.
Side dishes include: the traditional meso-american (spanish) tamale, stuffing (southern influence), plum (christmas) pudding originating from England, cranberry sauce, mashed potato, lefse ( a traditional norwegian flatbread eaten in Wisconsin and Minnesota), and mixed nuts.
Beverages include: champagne, apple cider, eggnog, hot chocolate, hot buttered rum (eww and random...dates back to the colonial days...) and a Tom and Jerry Christmas Cocktail (from Britain, it is a variant of eggnog adding rum and brandy and served hot, drunk in Wisconsin and Minnesota).
On to desserts...: custard, candy canes, chocolate fudge, christmas cookies, fruitcakes (originating in ancient Rome), gingerbread, persimmon pudding (a traditional American dessert, similar to English Christmas pudding), russian tea cakes (a pastry commonly eaten in England consisting of wedding cake, butterballs, or italian wedding cookies), and an array of pies ~ apple, mincemeat, sweet potato, pumpkin, and pecan!
So there you have it, cultures, traditions and food to celebrate family, love and connectedness!