Favorite Christmas Traditions

April 4, 2022  |  By Peg Kern
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Christmas traditions in front of the fire.Are your Christmas traditions as food-centered as ours? I can tell which holiday is being celebrated in my family simply by the meal that is being served! Some of the traditions are ones that go back to my childhood, while others I have added to our family life over the years.

Check out a recipe for Greek Christmas muffins.

Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories center around food. The smell of “charmin’ cherry bars” takes me instantly back to waiting for Santa to arrive. There is nothing about this bar cookie that screams “Christmas” beyond their slightly red color and the snow-like powdered sugar topping, but for some reason in my family we only ever had them during the Christmas season. And that is a tradition I’ve carried on in my family.

Gingerbread HouseRead more about our favorite Christmas Eve traditions.

Of course, being a modern, cosmopolitan girl, I now use all natural maraschino cherries instead of the neon-red version of my youth. The flavor and texture are the same – and it removes just a bit of the guilt!

We have plenty of other cookie traditions too: decorated sugar cookies, “Buckeye” candies, thumbdrops, Russian tea cakes, and of course gingerbread!

Don’t forget the Panettone!

Italian Panettone One baking tradition I’ve added to our family Christmastime schedule is the Italian panettone. My kids love the Tomie de Paola story about the baker Tony and his fantastic bread, so I decided one year to make it myself and have loved doing it since. It was surprisingly hard to find the distinctive panettone paper that they are left to rise and bake in. Even Chicago’s “Eataly” store didn’t have them, and when I asked they inquired blithely why I wasn’t simply buying their panettone! (Sur la Table came through for me in the end.)

Enjoying Christmas traditions together.Learn about the French Christmas Eve tradition of “le reveillon.” 

Of course, these traditions aren’t just related to the sweets. Growing up Christmas Eve dinner meant mom’s Boeuf a la bourguignon, while Christmas Day dinner meant Grandma’s Prime Rib (what can I say – I grew up in the midwest and we ate a lot of beef). My husband is a “pescatarian” so I tend to change up the Christmas Eve dinner with different fish dishes, sometimes even doing the feast of the 7 fishes. And usually I’m tired of cooking by that point, and Christmas Day we have a pizza party with homemade pizza. (Untraditional, but trust me, it’s awesome.)

A traditional Christmas tree.What are your favorite Christmastime food traditions? Do you have a special cookie, or a complete meal that you make each year? Are there Christmas markets that you like to go to?

Browse the blog for some wonderful Christmas recipes, including for Honey-Roasted Pork with Chestnut Confit or Quail with Caldvados Sauce.

By Peg Kern

Read about holiday drink traditions in the blog.

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