Christmas 2023: Exploring The Connection Of Pine And Christmas
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Christmas is coming and it's time to decorate our Christmas trees, hang our socks on them, and wait for Santa to give us lots of gifts and blessings. Nothing is more festive than watching your tree light up for the season. But have you ever wondered why we decorate pine or fig trees for Christmas?

Pine trees are a symbol of evergreen nature and hold a significant place in Christian and Pagan traditions. The use of evergreen trees as a cultural symbol predates Christianity. It is believed to have roots in ancient Egypt and Rome and in German traditions before it arrived in America in the 1800s.

Pine trees have made a lasting impression on the fabric of human history, with their importance spanning various civilizations and societies. Admired for their grandeur and long-lasting presence, these perennial giants have maintained a unique position in the affections and thoughts of people and cultures over time.

Several traditions have embraced the eternal beauty of pine trees. It has a recurring presence in ancient festival traditions, where it was associated with the sun god. In the dead of winter, these trees represented the warmth of spring with their green and soft needles. To feel this warmth all the time, its branches were used to decorate homes during the winter festival seasons. In this way, pine trees symbolise hope and life.

Pine trees held significance for Christian believers, symbolising hope akin to Jesus, often compared to the "Tree of Life" in Christian teachings. Rooted in biblical references, this analogy draws from the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, associated with eternal life. Christians view Jesus as fulfilling this symbol, offering the gift of eternal life through his sacrifice and resurrection. Along with the green needles, the pine trees also bear fruit all year. Therefore, several cultures have used its nuts to make festival delicacies and commemorate the spirit of joy and belief.

To celebrate Christmas in its spirit, here are five recipes you can try for a memorable celebration:

Pine Nut Cookies
These finest Italian cookies are the perfect snack to celebrate Christmas. Crumbly on the outside and soft on the inside, flavoured with almonds, and covered with golden roasted pine nuts, this treat truly sparks joy in everyone. It requires only four ingredients—almond paste, egg whites, sugar, and, of course, pine nuts. 


450 grams almond paste
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups (270 grams) pine nuts more as needed


1) Blend in the almond paste, sugar, and pine nuts together.
2) Add the egg whites and process until a dough forms.
3) Divide the dough, roll them into balls and cover with pine nuts.
4) Bake them in the oven until they turn golden.

Pine Nut Artisan Loaf
Artisan bread is a big part of Christmas traditions nowadays. You shouldn't miss the chance to bake them this season. 


1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1¼ teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1½ cups hot water
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup pine nuts


1) In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients by hand.
2) Add water and mix until moistened.
3) Cover the bowl with cooking spray-coated plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 12 hours.
4) Turn out the dough onto a floured surface.
5) Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and pine nuts, gently knead to incorporate, then shape the dough and let it rise for 45 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
6) Preheat the oven to 450°F with a ceramic Dutch oven and lid inside.
7) Carefully place the dough in the Dutch oven, sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded parmesan on top, replace the lid, and bake for 25-27 minutes until golden brown.
8) Cool the bread on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying your Parmesan Pine Nut Artisan Loaf.

Jewelled Yellow Rice and Pignoli
This beautifully garnered rice dish totally represents the spirit and yellow lights on the Christmas tree. Topping it with toasted pine nuts enhances the entire experience with nutty flavour. 


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 cup jasmine rice
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups low-salt vegetable broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts)


1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until it becomes translucent.
2) Add the jasmine rice to the saucepan and stir it with the onions for about a minute, allowing the rice to toast slightly.
3) Stir in the turmeric and kosher salt, coating the rice evenly.
4) Pour in the vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
5) While the rice is cooking, you can toast the pine nuts in a separate dry skillet over medium heat until they turn golden brown. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning.
6) Once the rice is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.
7) Fluff the rice with a fork, then gently fold in the golden raisins, chopped parsley, and toasted pine nuts.
8) Serve the jewelled rice with pignoli as a side dish or as a main course. Enjoy!

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