Tackling the Holidays

I'm a bit of a planner and organizer, now that we have kids. I used to be a very sporadic person, but there are so many things to think about, some have to be knocked out ahead of time or my head would explode. The winter holidays are already on my mind. Before we started trying for children, Jaime and I agreed we weren't going to do the holiday character thing {ex. Santa Clause}. Don't worry, we're going to make Christmas and all the other imagination and wonderment holidays exciting, just in a different way. I find all the stories surrounding each holiday to be so endlessly fascinating, I feel they are entertaining enough on their own.

What we are going to add to the stories of Ghosts and Ghouls, Pilgrims and Indians, Santa Clause, Frosty, Rudolph, Scrooge, Jesus, etc...is, a cultural theme for each holiday. I've found, with kids and men alike, that the best way to get through, is with food. So each year, we're going to pick a single culture {sub-culture, region, etc...} to theme each holiday during our winter celebrations, giving us a multitude of cultural experiences.

This year for Halloween, we're keeping it semi-simple by making Soul Cakes. The verdict is still out on where the tradition originated, but most think it was somewhere around the middle ages in either Britain or Ireland. They were filled with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and other various spices, so we're going to make little round pumpkin Soul Cakes.

We're going 1621 America, modeling right after some of the foods that would have been at the first Thanksgiving. You might be surprised to know that they had quite the range of meats that may have included turkey {not a surprise}, pheasant, lobster, seal and swan. No, I'm not cooking seals or swans! LOL! I'm thinking some type of America indigenous fowl, corn, stewed pumpkin and handmade Native American corn tortillas. When I was researching the Native American diet, I learned they had chocolate! I had no idea. Apparently they used it mostly as a seasoning or drink, so maybe I'll whip up some hot chocolate for dessert and call it a day. Some also enjoyed fruit puddings and maple candy, so it all boils down to if I want to drink dessert or stuff my face with a heavy dessert like usual.

Our Christmas schedule is going to start on December 20th with a traditional Jewish dish for each day of Hanukkah. The first dish will be served on the 20th and the last on the 28th, keeping our celebrating going even past Christmas Day - YAY! Our planned treats are going to include: Challah, Bagels and Lox, Matzah Ball Soup, Knish, Blintzes, Holishkes, Kugel and Latkes.

New Years
I'm going to be making some Japanese daifuku cakes! I can't wait. I've been eating them my entire life, but have never tackled making them myself. My dad makes sweet rice mochi, but I'm going to try and make the soft sweetened bean version.

We're really looking forward to the welcomed stress our new holiday tradition will bring each year. I'm so excited to learn more about the world through my favorite hobby, cooking, and am looking forward to blending new cultures into 2012 and the years following with my family. I'm also looking forward to sharing lots of photos! I'm sure I'll have more than one flop before the end of the year that we can all laugh at.

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