Hello My Friends!
November has been a wonderful month. The weather here has been mild, the garden has been growing like crazy and I have had my first harvest. I also love the excitement of this time of year, the time from Halloween through the New Year. There is so much going on and food plays such a special role in each holiday. I decided that this year, I would be ready. I purchased several small cooking pumpkins and prepared them for pies. I also baked holiday cookies in late November (and froze them) so that I would have them on hand throughout the season. I planted my tomatoes early enough so that we will have them for Christmas dinner. Each of these small things adds a special enjoyment to the season that I love to savor.
From Thanksgiving through the first week of January, there are many holidays and special “feast” days that are often overlooked. This is unfortunate, because each carries with it a unique message and perspective on life. Many of these special days also have a food tradition associated with them. We all know Thanksgiving, but do you know the feast of St. Nicholas, which is a Christian feast day celebrated in many European countries on December 6th (December 19th in Orthodox countries)? The legend of St. Nicholas eventually gave rise to the American Santa Clause and the British Father Christmas, and is linked to Sinterklaas known in the Netherlands. When I was a child, there would be a basket with little candies and gifts waiting for me when I got up on the morning of December 6th, supposedly left by an overnight visit from St. Nicholas. This feast day carries a clear message of giving.
Another more obscure holiday to Americans is St. Lucia Day, which is on December 13th. This is celebrated in Scandinavia and Italy. There are special baked goods associated with this feast day and, in a most interesting celebration, young girls dressed in red sashes wear wreaths of lit candles on their heads. My mother’s old cookbook has several recipes for special breads that are made just for this holiday. St. Lucia Day is celebrated around the shortest days of the year, bringing cheer during a period of long nights.
Holidays aside, the crisp air and beautiful winter skies are what I enjoy most about this time of year. The heavy burden of summer heat is gone and life feels light and free. Take some time to enjoy, and not stress, over the richness of this holiday season. The best things that you can enjoy are right in your own home.
Until next time, take care my friends.