Christmas was an especially warm time. The sod house, despite its drawbacks, was well insulated against the harsh outdoors, and the kitchen fire glowed with burning corncobs or dried cornstalks, a substitute for hard-to-come-by wood. Careful hoarding of raisins, candied fruits, nuts, sugar, and well-liked spices like cardamom seed and anise seed meant that a Swedish family could have a yule bread asparkle with candied fruit or a frosted Christmas tea ring studded with nuts. Best of all, there might be an assortment of Swedish Christmas cookies, particularly the buttery spritz cookies that could be shaped into stars, wreaths, crowns, and even Christmas trees.
The holiday was a suitable time for reflection and for thanksgiving. The pioneer family of the plains gave thanks for another summer’s harvest safely delivered, for the winter wheat sowed snugly beneath the snow ready for sprouting in the spring, for the hard-earned rewards of having established a foothold and brought forth a living from the forbidding terrain and climate of the Great American Desert. From Hunter’s Stew and Hangtown Fry: What Pioneer America Ate and Why by Lila Perl
Is your Christmas celebration tied to a particular ethnic tradition? What foods make your Christmas special? Feel free to link to a recipe or a memory posted at your blog or tell us here in the comments section.