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Stories of traditional Christmas foods

Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, everything is softer and more beautiful. Isn’t it? Indeed I love the vibes, which this festival creates. Everything seems so vibrant, positive,  full of life and of course, it is the best way to end the year. But before we step into the New Year, let’s talk a bit more about the festival to eat, drink and be merry! Needless to say, food plays a major role in making the festivities all the more memorable – from Plum Cakes and Gingerbread Mans to Eggnogs and more. So today, I’m going to introduce you to some of the most fascinating stories associated with some of the traditional Christmas foods. Read on…



For centuries, chestnuts have been a staple food in the Mediterranean countries. It has an earthy and musty taste. The chestnut trees were adaptable to mountains in the Mediterranean regions, where due to the climatic conditions, other cereal grains couldn’t grow. Hence, Alexander and the Romans planted chestnuts in entire Europe. After which it became an imperative food source for the residents of these areas. That's how it became popular in a holiday song too, which mentioned: ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.’ It is believed that chestnuts are versatile in nature and an affordable source of nutrition, hence more prevalent on the Christmas feast table. 


Fruit Cake

The fruit cake came into existence in the Middle Ages. It was when dried fruits became more available. As we fruit cakes tasted better with age, liquor based cakes could be stored for several months. This process is called ripening. Did you know that liquor based cakes can be enjoyed as long as for 25 years? The liquor-soaked cake is placed in a cool place and is immersed in powdered sugar which is then placed in a tightly covered tin. That’s where the magic happens! Also, dried fruits and sugar were expensive to be imported back then. Hence, it was only used in large quantities during special occasions like weddings or Christmas. Owing to which fruit cakes became a pertinent part of this festival and was used often as a gift. 



The mere glance at the gingerbread brings a rush of emotions. After all, it is one of the major highlights of this festival. It was the 16th century when the gingerbread houses originated in Germany. Where the detailed cookie walled houses, decorated with foil and a gold leaf became a part of the Christmas tradition. It actually became popular when the author Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel. According to the story, the main characters had stumbled upon a house, which was made in the dense forest and constructed entirely with treats. 



Eons ago, to fetch a turkey, an individual would have just needed to work for 1.7 hours to afford one. However, later in the 1930's it became expensive and would cost the average person a week’s wages to buy it. Eventually, after World War II, Turkey became relatively more preferred over goose. And was treated as the most popular Christmas roast owing to the fact that most families started possessing a fridge in their home. Also, it had a succulent flesh with a distinctive and rich flavour. Moreover, it could suffice the hunger twice of what a goose could do. Hence, became a popular choice amongst the families for feasting on Christmas. 



In the early times, milk and eggs were not affordable and therefore were associated with the wealthy class. So, even eggnog which is a drink made from milk/cream, sugar, raw eggs, with one or even more alcoholic spirits, spices, vanilla, etc. was costly. This recipe was derived from a British drink known as the ‘posset,’ which was composed of hot milk, spices and wine. After the 18th century, eggnog made its American debut and was then associated with Christmas. 


Candy Cane

Candy canes have different stories attached to it. Some believe that the cane was shaped as a ‘J’ to symbolise Jesus and the red and white stripes represented Christ's blood and its attached purity. Its peppermint flavour also represented the purity of Jesus. On the other hand, it is claimed that these candies were first made in Germany at a Catholic cathedral in the year 1670. Where a choirmaster at the cathedral used to bend candy sticks into crooks and later gave to children so that they kept quiet during the Christmas services.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.