Holiday Foods From Around the World
Whether it's baked carp or African stew, December is the time for family, festivity and food.
The holidays are such a personal experience from family to family, and community to community, that it's easy to forget people are celebrating in different ways all around the world.
The foods that people eat during the holiday season are as varied as the regions they sprang from. So if your family is carving into a ham and passing the candied yams, a family across the country could be preparing Caribbean foods for Kwanzaa, while a third family in Israel is enjoying the traditional fried foods of Hanukkah.
The first major celebration of 2008 will be Hanukkah, the Jewish "Festival of Light" that begins on Dec. 21. Hanukkah is an eight-day ceremony with many elements including the nightly lighting of the menorah (a candle holder with seven branches), playing a spinning top game called dreidel, and eating fried foods such as potato pancakes and doughnuts.
Next is Christmas, the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ that takes place on Dec. 24 and 25. Some modern traditions associated with Christmas include building Nativity scenes, decorating a tree in the home, and Santa Claus. Traditional foods associated with Christmas in the U.S. include roasted turkey or ham, candied yams, and fruit cakes and pies.
The third major observance this year will be Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration of African heritage beginning Dec. 26. It was created by African-American political activist Maulana Karenga in 1966 and is "deeply rooted in the concept and practice of creating and sharing good in the world."
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Foods associated with Kwanzaa include traditional African vegetable stews and Southern comfort foods like sweet potato pie and fried okra.
Elsewhere around the world people are celebrating in more ways than we can count. Here's a list of notable holiday menu items from around the globe:
Congo - Chicken
Czech Republic - Baked carp
England - Roasted turkey
Ghana - "Fufu" (rice and yam paste with okra stew and meat)
Greenland - Whale blubber
Sicily - Eel
Norway - Codfish
Poland - "Oplatek" (bread with a holy picture pressed into the surface)
Ukraine - "Kutya" (meatless porridge)
Venezuela - Bread filled with ham and raisins
Vietnam - Chicken soup