Last week we learned about six traditional Christmas treats from around the world, and today I’m sharing six more! There are many amazing (and delicious) Christmas traditions, hopefully this list will help you learn more about them. If you haven’t read the first part of this post you might want to go read that first.
7. El Turrón from Spain
[Photo courtesy of “Lablascovegmenu“]
In Spain sweets are a staple at Christmas time. Whether it’s traditional cakes, marzipan, or the El turrón. El turrón is nougat made with honey and almonds. There is even an enchanting legend about how the king married a Scandinavia princess and when she came to live in Spain she missed her homeland, with all the gorgeous snow covered mountains. The king planted thousands of almond trees where she could see so that when they bloomed it would look as if it were snowing. The people then learned how to use the almonds to make many treats, including el turrón.
8. Bibingka from the Philippines
[Photo courtesy of Roberto Verzo]
Christmas is a really big deal in the Philippines. It’s celebrated much longer than in America, all the way from September to January! During this time of celebration there are beautiful lanterns hanging everywhere, a series of Christmas masses is regularly attended, and it’s a time to help others.(link 20) The food is important as well. Coconut and rice is a staple, both of which are featured in the traditional Christmas bibingka. A cake made with rice and topped with butter, sugar, and fresh coconut.
9. Dundee Cake from Scotland
[Photo courtesy of Alan Clark]
For over 400 years Christmas was abandoned in Scotland, it was first banned for 48 years due to it being seen as a catholic holiday. However, even after the ban was lifted it was still not made a national holiday until 1958. They still had their winter holidays though, most popular being Hogmanay. One of their beloved holiday dishes is Dundee cake, Scotland’s version of fruit cake. Dundee cake is made with marmalade, dried fruits, and almonds. Dundee cake is so important to Scotland that they’re bidding to make the label “Dundee cake” exclusive, so that no one else in Europe may sell it. It’s a legend that the first Dundee cake was made for Mary Queen of Scots, however the first time the cake was mass produced was by a Dundee marmalade maker in the late 1700’s.
10. Bolo Rei from Portugal
[Photo courtesy of “Alberto….“]
As in many countries traditional Christmas food is very important in Portugal. One of these important dishes is the bolo rei, translated as king cake. While both made with a sweet bread bolo rei is very different than the Mari Gras king cake, which is often filled with cream cheese and a jam then topped with sprinkles. This Portuguese king cake is both filled and topped with candied fruits, as well as nuts and port wine. Along with the bolo rei there is also bolo rainha, also known as queen cake. Bolo rainha differs from bolo rei by excluding candied fruit and having a much larger amount of nuts. Bolo rei remains the more popular and traditional of the two, however they are both much loved.
11. Melomakarona from Greece
[Photo courtesy of Christina Milioni]
Walking around a town in Greece at Christmas time you’ll see bright lights, bells, and decorated boats, as a reminder of Saint Nicolas, who is believed to protect sailors. You’ll also often find children caroling and a variety of cultural events, such as musical and theatrical performances. Kourabiedes, Vasilopita, and baklava are all popular at Christmas time, as well as melmakarona. Melmakarona are cookies that among other ingredients contain olive oil, orange juice, honey, and spices. After baked you soak them in a honey and spice syrup and then proceed to roll them in spiced walnuts. Not only is this Grecian staple delicious and unique, but they can also be stored for up to a month in the fridge! If you’re looking for a delicious and unique cookie for your holidays this may just be the right cookie for you.
12. Roomboter Banketstaaf from The Netherlands
[Photo courtesy of Ruth Hartnup]
For the Dutch Christmas starts mid-November when Sinterklaas and his helpers, Zwarte Piet arrive. Every year he arrives by boat from Spain and lands in a different Dutch city. However, Sinterklaas is not the same as Santa Claus. On December 5th they hold a feast in honor of Sinterklaas, Saint Nicolas. For the Dutch Sinterklaas is seen as a much more elegant and witty character than Santa Claus. After the feast on December 5th Christmas is in full bloom with fairy lights decorating the towns. When Christmas comes around only about 50% of the families give gifts, however the number is slowly rising, along with the more American tradition of Santa Claus. There are two days of Christmas, both December 25th and 26th; both of which are spent with family, good food, caroling, watching TV, and telling stories. One of the traditional sweet treats is banketstaaf, a buttery and flaky pastry filled with a mixture of almond paste, sugar, butter, egg, and almond extract. You couldn’t go wrong of these at any time of the day paired with a hot chocolate and freshly whipped cream.
Thank you for joining me in learning about these twelve countries and their traditions! Do you have a Christmas tradition that’s special to you?