Christmas 2022: Exploring The Origins Of Traditional Foods
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Christmas is here and so is the time to binge on plum cakes, roasted goose, gingerbread cookies and so on, while sipping on eggnog and mulled wine. All these delicacies and drinks are relished around the world during this season, but have you ever wondered how these foods and beverages became such an integral part of the Christmas celebration? These iconic foods, prime to holiday menus, are deeply ingrained in global culture. And although used in various ways in different regions, they all tend to be consumed more during this time of the year. 

Curious to know about the fascinating stories behind your favourite Christmas food and drinks? Read on…  

1. Eggnog 

A dairy-based beverage, eggnog is also known as a milk punch or an egg milk punch. It is traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and whipped egg whites. And while historians have had a hard time figuring out the origin of this holiday drink, many agree that the version we know today comes from a warm milk and ale drink from early mediaeval Britain that was reserved for toasting to good health and fortune among the upper class. Eggnog was once considered a drink only for the wealthy since milk and eggs were too expensive in those days. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that eggnog made its foray into America and has been associated with Christmas since then. Eggnog is also known to be George Washington’s favourite drink. 

2. Gingerbread 

One of the most popular Christmas traditions, baking gingerbread cookies and making gingerbread houses are an intrinsic part of Christmas celebrations. But do you know that this tradition became popular because of Queen Elizabeth I? It is said that to entertain her dignified guests, the Queen would offer them gingerbread shapes to resemble their likeness. As for the tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses, it began in Germany when the Brothers Grimm, who wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, a fairy tale with a large gingerbread in which the wicked witch used to live. 

3. Roasted Goose 

Much before the farm-raised poultry came into existence, families who lived off the land had to choose carefully which animals to eat on special occasions because chickens and other domesticated birds provided a steady source of some sort of cheap and convenient source of protein. Whole geese were cooked because they laid eggs only seasonally. This bird was the most common on Christmas menus before turkeys and Thanksgiving traditions took over. 

4. Candy Canes 

The candy canes with a hint of sweet peppermint are a favourite of everyone during the season beyond age group. Especially the ‘J’ shaped ones. It is said that candy canes were made in the shape of ‘J’ to resemble the first alphabet of Jesus. It is also said that the white colour of the candy embodies the purity of Christ, while the red colour embodies the blood of Christ. The peppermint flavour of the candy too is said to represent the purity of Jesus. 

5. Fruitcake

These fruit-laden, often boozy, cakes that we have today traces back to the Middle Ages, when dried fruits and sugar were expensive imports, so people only used them in large quantities strictly on special occasions. That is why fruitcake was also a traditional wedding cake option.