Christmas Trees

Posted December 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

In 16th-century Germany fir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Vintage tree-toys.psd

A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden — the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert from his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.

Christmas stockings

According to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.
The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls’ plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman’s house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry.

Christmas recipes

The children always look forward to receiving gifts, while grown-ups probably look forward to preparing and eating Christmas food the most. As it is, we all exert much effort to plan and prepare good food during Christmas. All recipes must be tasty and there must be enough of everything.

However, even though traditions with regards to Christmas recipes are great, they are not the same across States.

• Hawaii blesses us with Turkey Teriyaki marinated and cooked in an outdoor pit.
• New England has Lumberjack Pie (a mashed potato crust filled with meat, onion, and cinnamon) 
• Pennsylvania Dutch serves Sand Tarts (thin, crisp sugar cookies) 
• Louisiana’s treat is Creole Gumbo. It can include ham, veal, chicken, shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat.
• North Carolina features Moravian Love-Feast Buns (faintly sweet bread of flour and mashed potatoes) 
• Baltimore serves Sauerkraut with their Turkey (which includes apples, onions, and carrots) 
• Southern states have Hominy Grits Soufflé and Whiskey Cake (with one cup of 100-proof whiskey.) 
• New Mexico has Empanaditas — little beef pies with applesauce, pine nuts, and raisins 
• Virginia gives us oyster and ham pie

At the same time, each family often has its own personal Christmas recipe which all members prefer. Sometimes, the turkey is stuffed with something very special or the potatoes need to be prepared in a special way on this particular day.

You will see the big differences if you examine what the different nations eat for Xmas. In Mexico, the menu mostly consists of fruits, nuts, and salad. In the Czech Republic, they eat carp, and in France, the Christmas recipes consist of both foie gras and lobster.

Sweet stuff

Christmas food is about more than just the hot main dish. Besides the savory dish, Christmas recipes include lots of cakes, pies, sugar, and candy are also important.

The 1796 book, ”American Cookery”, considered to be America’s first cookbook, shows that Americans have had a sweet tooth for a long time. One of the holiday recipes goes like this:

Christmas Cookey
“To three pounds of flour, sprinkle a tea cup of fine powdered coriander seed, rub in one pound of butter, and one and a half pound sugar, dissolve one tea spoonful of pearlash [a rising agent] in a tea cup of milk, kneed all together well, roll three quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape and slice you please, bake slowly fifteen or twenty minutes; tho’ hard and dry at first, if put in an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old.”