"Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can't help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It's an inspiring time of year" ~Marlo Thomas
A shoe-in for conversation topics with the GJ team are membership site templates and travel, hands down. Perhaps a lesser known fact about the GJ duo is the topic of food will also light up the GJ room.
Hey there, we’re GJ and we’re total foodies.
Combining our love for travel, and food, and celebrations, it’s our joy to bring to you today…
Holiday foods around the world.
On January 6th, Epiphany Day commemorates the day the Three Kings visited infant Jesus. The French celebrate with Galette des Rois, a flaky cake with sugary, buttery almond filling. Baked into the batter is a small trinket called a “feve,” and whoever discovers it in their slice gets to wear a paper crown and play king or queen for the night.
Buche De Noel is a French Christmas cake whose name literally means “Yule log.” It’s usually a chocolate cake baked in the shape of a log and dusted with powdered sugar to call to symbolize white snow on a fallen log.
Fried latkes (potato pancakes) are a staple at almost every American Hanukkah feast. But in Colombia, you’re likely instead to find patacones: green plantains that are sliced and fried in oil.
Germany / Austria
Mulled “glowing wine” is a staple at the Christmas markets in German cities each Yuletide. Though every family has their own best recipe for gluhwein, what most have in common is that the spiced, heated red wine is sweetened with a combination of sugar and citrus juices.
Doro wat is a spicy Ethiopian chicken curry served at Christmas on injera sponge-platter bread. Doro wat is also a popular Hanukkah dish among Ethiopian Jews.
According to legend, back when Christians were still being persecuted as a Roman minority, St. Lucia brought food to Christians hiding in the catacombs, while wearing a candlelit wreath atop her head to light her way while leaving her hands free to carry more food. Scandinavians today celebrate St. Lucia’s Day with a variety of celebratory foods including a St. Lucia’s Wreath, a glazed sweetened bread decorated with candles and colorful ribbons.
Though Christmas fruitcake has a bad reputation in America, in sugar-growing countries throughout the CAribbean, cakes made with rum dough or at least rum-soaked fruits are popular Christmas desserts.
Lutefisk is a truly unique dish commonly enjoyed around Christmas in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and parts of the U.S. like Minnesota with large populations of Scandinavian heritage. It's made from a dried fish such as cod or haddock soaked in lye, aka sodium hydroxide, and steamed to create its unusual gelatinous texture.
In China, the winter solstice celebration is called Gong Zhi (“winter arrives”). One traditional Dong Zhi food is tang yuan, boiled balls of sweet glutinous rice flour wrapped around a black sesame filling.
Russia and Ukraine
In Russian Orthodox tradition, it's common to fast on Christmas Eve, then break the fast with sochivo, a sweet porridge made of grains sweetened with fruit, honey, and nuts.
Bathtub Carp. Fried, breaded carp with potato salad and fish soup constitutes a traditional Czech Christmas meal. These days, street vendors will sell the live fish from large tubs leading up to the holiday, but it used to be common custom for families to keep the carp alive in their home bathtubs for up to a week before the holiday so they could be enjoyed as fresh as possible.
And, as a great addition, some who have journeyed through the GJ Experience are sharing some of their favorite Christmas foods...
K said, "I associate Christmas morning with German stollen. My father’s family emigrated from Darmstadt, Germany in the 1880’s." Stollen is a German Christmas bread more like a spicy sugar-covered fruitcake. Back in medieval times stollen were rather tasteless hard pastries served during Lent, when the consumption of milk and butter were forbidden. Now it’s experienced as a rich treat.
"Since 1981 after I bought a copy of the Christmas Carol story in Wales, I have celebrated the month of December by cooking the Cratchit family dinner of goose, stuffing, applesauce and plum pudding, and put up a display of Dickens village. We celebrate Stooge's transformation from meanness to generosity by also doing a group reading from the story."
M shared, "I always look forward to Christmas morning with Prune Roll, a simple Danish pastry that came from my Danish grandmother. And, my Polish grandfather and my dad and his siblings had to have Czarnina Christmas Eve, which is a traditional goose blood soup with dried fruits."
Have a favorite holiday meal item to share? We'd love to hear!
Georges & Janelle