Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Food

MENTAL STATUS: "Pleased". One gift away from being DONE Christmas shopping.

The other day my daughter brought home a slip of paper from her teacher about the "holiday" party they're going to be having. During their party, the kids will be celebrating food and customs of Christmas from around the world. My daughter volunteered me to make or bring in food for the party.

Well, I have to say, this is one secular thing they're doing in her public school for the Christmas that I actually... kind of like. :)

I'm half Polish and half Lithuanian, so I grew up eating very plainly on Christmas Eve. Christmas is our big dinner. Now that I cook, I still keep that tradition. I know it's an Italian custom to do the "seven fishes" on Christmas Eve, but in our culture it is only one or two fishes and a very simple menu. We would always have pierogies, potato pancakes, herring, sometimes potato soup, and a main fish dish-which usually varied.

Every year my mom and I travel to Philadelphia to go to the "old school" Polish bakery to get homemade pierogies and babka. I offered to bring in one of those items for the school party. Years ago, my mom used to make all that stuff herself. She used to make these Polish cookies called CHRUSCHICI, too. They are AWESOME. I see them at my supermarket now at this time, but nothing beats homemade. I'd make them myself, but I'm going to get them at that bakery in Philadelphia.

My mom said my grandmom used to decorate the table with straw for Christmas Eve, since Jesus was born in a manger. I haven't done that yet, but I think it would be nice to do for my daughter this year.

Do you have any cultural food traditions at Christmas time?


Chicki said...

My brother used to date a Polish girl who made the most fabulous pierogies. You're right, the ones in the box don't taste anything like the real deal.

Our family tradition now that we have grandkids is for them to come over Christmas Eve and have hot cocoa and roast marshmallows in the fireplace.

A big tradition in the black community is to cook something special for New Years. It's a tradition to eat black-eyed peas and greens (collard or turnip.) The peas represent coins and the greens are dollars. It is said that each pea you eat equals one dollar's worth of earning, and each portion of greens equals $1,000. Christmas is just cooking the biggest dinner you can manage! :)

Bethanne said...

We've done lasagna most christmas' since we got married. New years is definitely pork roast, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut... Hmm. Very good, i can't wait.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

My family usually just does the rather boring turkey or ham. The fanciest we ever get is buying some shrimp for an appetizer.

Diane Craver said...

For Christmas Eve, we eat lasagna after we go to Mass at 5:00. On Christmas Day we eat ham for dinner.

Great post, Jennifer - enjoyed reading about your traditions!

Jessica said...

Yummy. I bet homemade pierogies taste better than frozen ones.
No cultural traditions here. Just lots of cheese and chocolate. :-)

Stephanie said...

How neat! Do you read She just recently did a post on Polish tradition. Her grandparents still live there and she has a remarkable story. You should check her out.

Food traditions in our house are simply American!