Holiday Ethnic Food Traditions From Around The World

Holiday ethnic food traditions: though we celebrate many of the same holidays all over the globe, the food we share at these gatherings is worlds apart.

Throughout the centuries, in countries around the world, food has been used to celebrate at our holidays, our rituals and our family gatherings. The food eaten at holiday time has made the deepest impact on our culture and memories. Different holidays bring different types of food. Much of the food we eat during the holidays comes from old wives tales and traditions handed down for hundreds of years.

New Year's Eve always brings parties and get-togethers, but where you live in the world may determine what food graces your table. In the southern US, partiers eat black eyed peas, which are thought to bring good luck and prosperity. The Japanese also eat food for good luck on New Year's, but their choice is red snapper, the color red being considered good luck in Japan. The Jewish celebrate New Year by eating apples dipped in honey and in Madrid, Spain the last minutes of the New Year are counted down with the popping of grapes into the mouth. A pets is a cake prepared by the Greek with a coin baked into it. The person who gets the slice of cake with the coin in it should have special luck in the upcoming year. On the other hand, The Buddhist New year is celebrated by baking a dish called the guthok, made of nine special ingredients. One of these ingredients is a piece of charcoal. Rather than good luck, however, the person who gets the piece of charcoal is said to have an evil heart.

In the United States, a typical Christmas feast can contain a variety of foods ranging from turkey to chicken, from ham to goose, but other countries celebrate this holiday differently. Perhaps these choices have been taken from the traditions of our heritage. In Denmark, a traditional Christmas meal is roast goose, Greece, leg of lamb, and in Hungary, chicken paprikash, which is flavored with paprika. Traditionally, Italians keep their Christmas Eve meal meatless, substituting a fish stew called, zuppa di pesce. The Irish follow suit with an oyster stew. The traditional Christmas dinner in New Zealand is a picnic eaten on the beach. The Jewish holiday Hanukkah is celebrated around the same time as Christmas and is an 8 day Festival of Light. Eaten during this holiday are latkes, cooked in oil, to remind them of the oil that burned in the temple for 8 days.

Believe it or not, lesser holidays also have traditional foods associated with it. On April Fool's Day, the French try to trick each other. A person who is tricked is called poisson d'Avril or "April fish". As such, the chocolate treats in the shape of a fish is the snack of the day. In the US people used to try to trick each other into eating pieces of chocolate-covered cotton, fooling them with this makeshift "cotton candy".

On Halloween, US children go trick or treating for candy, dunk for apples, drink apple cider, and eat black and orange decorated cookies and candies. But in Ireland, where the customs of Halloween began, the traditional foods are oatmeal porridge, barm brach (raisin bread) and colcannon (baked kale and potatoes).

Though holidays around the world are celebrated in different ways, it is food, feast and family that brings us together.

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