Traditional Christmas foods

Not every household has a Christmas tree or wreath and eats a giant plate full of cookies as a part of their holiday celebrations. When you learn to cook online it is important to learn about other countries traditions and foods so that you can expand your culinary repertoire. Read on to learn about some Christmas traditions around the world:

Many Polish people believe that a dirty house on Christmas Eve means a dirty house all year-long, so they thoroughly clean their homes, including washing their windows, before the big day. The weather on Christmas is said to predict the weather for the rest of the year, so everyone hopes for a beautiful fresh snow. A family that is following tradition will have an extra seat at the table just incase someone decides to join them unexpectedly. This reminds them that everyone is welcome and should have somewhere to go for the holiday. A wafer made of flour and water called the oplatek is broken and handed to each member of the family as they wish each other well. The meal often starts with red beetroot borscht. Breaded or Jewish-style carp or herring are often eaten, along with pierogis, and sauerkraut. Dessert may consist of kutia, wheat grains cooked with poppy seeds, honey, nuts, port or wine and candied or dried fruits. Gingerbread, known as piernik, is made into cakes that are topped with icing and layered with plum preserves.

Mexican tradition celebrates Christmas from Dec. 12 through Jan. 6. For a week before Christmas, children visit the houses of their friends and neighbors, toting clay figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and singing posadas. There are nightly parties and houses are decorated with pine boughs and paper lanterns. Kings cake, also called rosca de reyes, is a sweet bread with nuts, powdered sugar and candied jellies on top. Inside is a figure of infant Jesus that one lucky diner will find. Tamales are also a Christmas favorite, often made on Christmas Eve and consisting of masa, shredded pork and red chiles all wrapped in corn husk. Other ingredients include chicken and cheese. Often a family will form an assembly line, each member adding another delicious part to the tamale before it is steamed.

On Christmas Eve in Greece, children go caroling, called singing kalanda, and passersby may give them sweets, money nuts and dried figs as thanks and payment. Tradition calls for sprigs of basil to be hung over water in a shallow wooden bowl to ward off the Killantzaroi, or evil spirits. The spirits can only appear between Christmas and Jan. 6 and are said to make milk go bad and put out fires. Typical Christmas food is roasted pork or lamb, spinach and cheese pie and salad. Baklava, sweet pastry with cinnamon and nuts, and a fried pastry called theeples are often eaten as well.

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