Croatian Christmas Traditions and Epiphany

In Croatian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Sretan Božić’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

In Croatia, preparations for Christmas start on 25th November which is St Catherine’s day. People also celebrate Advent. Over 85% of people in Croatia are Catholics so Advent is an important time for them.

It’s traditional to have an Advent wreath made of straw or evergreen twigs which has four candles

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mostly celebrated with close family. On Boxing day friends and extended family visit each other.

On Christmas Eve, most people eat dried-cod called ‘bakalar’ or some other kind of fish as it’s considered as meat fast (so you can’t eat meat).

The main Christmas Day is often turkey, goose or duck. A popular side dish is sarma (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meat).

There’s also always lots of small cookies and cakes to eat including ‘fritule’ which are Croatian donuts flavored with lemon.

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The Christmas celebrations finish on Epiphany (6th January).

Read More:

Croatia: Epiphany, Red Wine And Taking Down Of Christmas Tree Tradition

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Christmas in the Philippines

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known for gorgeous Parols ( Christmas lanterns), Tarlac province comes alive Photo Credit Wikipedia

 

Christmas in the Philippines, one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols are heard as early as September and the season lasting up until Epiphany.

World’s Longest Christmas Season

The Philippines has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season. Although faint traces of the coming Christmas arise beginning from early September, it is traditionally ushered in by the nine-day dawn Masses that start on Dec. 16. Known as the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) or Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish. These Masses are more popularly known in Tagalog as the Simbang Gabi. Christmas Eve on December 24 is the much-anticipated “noche buena” — the traditional Christmas feast after the midnight mass. Family members dine together on traditional noche buena fare, which includes the quéso de bóla (“ball cheese”, usually edam cheese) and jamón (Christmas ham). Usually, aside from the already legal holidays which are Rizal Day (December 30) and New Year’s Eve (December 31), other days in close proximity such as Christmas Eve (December 24), Niños Innocentes (December 28), and the Epiphany (traditionally, January 6) are also declared as non-working days. In Asia, Christmas is also the liveliest in the Philippines, since the country is one of the few predominantly Christian nation in the continent besides Russia, East Timor, Georgia and Armenia.

Food Traditions

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve (“Bisperas ng Pasko”/Spanish: Vísperas de la Navidad) on December 24 is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and immediately after, the much-anticipated Noche Buena – the traditional Christmas Eve feast. Family members dine together around 12 midnight on traditional Nochebuena fare, which includes: queso de bola (Spanish: “ball of cheese”; this is actually edam cheese), “Tsokolate” (a hot chocolate drink made from cacao and traditionally from crushed peanuts which add a pleasant grittiness and nutty flavor*.) and jamón (Christmas ham). Some would also open presents at this time.

 

*Source Wikepedia

*-Definition of Tsokolate-Desserts come first

A Dashing of Christmas Card History

Sir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas Cards in 1843. A Civil Servant based in the U.K., Cole developed theChristmas Card Histor holiday card idea with a friend, John Horsley. The two men designed the first card depicting people helping the poor and a family enjoying a large Christmas Dinner.

The first Christmas Cards sold for 1 shilling each. Those cards are now very rare and very valuable. The cards were first sent via the Public Post Office and gained popularity when printing methods improved and postage dropped.

Christmas Cards made their way to the United States during the late 1840’s. It wasn’t until 1875 when Germany’s Louis Prang began the mass production of cards, that everyone in the United States (besides the rich) was able to participate in exchanging seasonal greetings.

Early Christmas cards featured Nativity Scenes, flowers, children, and plants. Modern day cards are now very creative with tunes, 3-D pop-ups, and anything you can imagine. The popularity of Christmas Cards may never go away, but during the 2013 Christmas Season, the world was hit with a new phenomenon: The Viral Christmas Greeting Video.

For more information on the origin of Christmas Cards check out WhyChristmas.com.

Vegan Gravy Recipe

Use this vegan gravy recipe as a substitute in your bisquits-‘n’-gravy meal, or for any other dish that calls for a gravy – gravyhanksgiving stuffing, Salisbury “Steak”, Vegan meatloaf or even with veggie burgers. It can also be used as a supplement or even substitute for meat gravies.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic — squashed and minced
  • 2 slices yellow onion — chopped
  • 8 Tbs all-purpose white flour
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 Tbs tamari (soy sauce)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 white mushrooms — sliced (optional)
  • extra flour or cornstarch (optional)

Directions:

Pour vegetable oil into saucepan. Cook the garlic and onion in oil for about two minutes on medium or medium-low heat, until the onion is tender and translucent.

Add the flour, yeast, and tamari to make a paste.

Add the water gradually, stirring constantly.

Bring the gravy to a boil on medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly — the gravy has to boil for it to thicken.

Add pepper. Stir in the sliced mushrooms, if desired. Add salt, if desired.

A Dashing of Christmas Card History

Christmas CardSir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas Cards in 1843. A Civil Servant based in the U.K., Cole developed the holiday card idea with a friend, John Horsley. The two men designed the first card depicting people helping the poor and a family enjoying a large Christmas Dinner.

The first Christmas Cards sold for 1 shilling each. Those cards are now very rare and very valuable. The cards were first sent via the Public Post Office and gained popularity when printing methods improved and postage dropped.

Christmas Cards made their way to the United States during the late 1840’s. It wasn’t until 1875 when Germany’s Louis Prang began the mass production of cards, that everyone in the United States (besides the rich) was able to participate in exchanging seasonal greetings.

Early Christmas cards featured Nativity Scenes, flowers, children, and plants. Modern day cards are now very creative with tunes, 3-D pop-ups, and anything you can imagine. The popularity of Christmas Cards may never go away, but during the 2013 Christmas Season, the world was hit with a new phenomenon: The Viral Christmas Greeting Video.

For more information on the origin of Christmas Cards check out WhyChristmas.com.

History of Wassail and How to Make It

wassail

Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with Yuletide. Historically, the drink was a mulled ale made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and topped with slices of toast. Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice, or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Pieces of winter fruits, such as apples or oranges, are often added to the mix. Particularly popular in Germanic countries, the term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning “be healthy”. The origins of the practice of wassailing are closely

While the beverage typically served as “wassail” at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail drinks were completely different, more likely to be mulled beer or mead. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops.

photo by Multi Cultural Cooking Network- Crystal Johnson added ginger to the recipe.

Hence the first stanza of the traditional carol the Gloucestershire Wassail dating back to the Middle Ages:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

At Carhampton, near Minehead, the Apple Orchard Wassailing is held on the Old Twelfth Night (17 January) as a ritual to ask God for a good apple harvest. The villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree, hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robins, who represent the ‘good spirits’ of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits and the group sings, the following being the last verse:

Old Apple tree, old apple tree;
We’ve come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.

Hawaiian-Portuguese Smoked Turkey

A wave of Portuguese came to Hawaii in the late 1800s to work the sugarcane fields, and over time their cooking traditions fused with those of other cultures in the islands, including Chinese and Japanese.  

PREP AND COOK TIME 4 to 5 hours, plus 2 days to marinate

MAKES 1 turkey (18 to 20 lbs.)

starts with a frozen turkey and marinates it for 3 days; our version starts with a thawed or fresh bird. If your arms aren’t strong, it’s helpful to have a friend or relative help you ease the turkey on and off the grill.

1 turkey (18 to 20 lbs.), thawed if frozen
1 tbsp. each coarsely chopped ginger and
garlic, plus 4 tbsp. each minced garlic
and ginger
4 cups soy sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. light brown or turbinado sugar
6 cups hickory chips
2 cups chicken broth
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
lengthwise

Click Here to See the Direction for 3 Day Process

About the Real St. Nick

Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Sinterklaas. He was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.[8] He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.

North America: The Presidential Turkey Pardon

President Obama Pardons a Lucky Turkey Photo © Alex Wong/Getty Images

The presidential pardoning of one lucky turkey is a fairly modern practice.  Although Abraham Lincoln could get  unofficial credit according to some historians.  Supposedly, their family had a pet turkey that Lincoln’s son viewed as a pet and asked to be spared.

President John F. Kennedy spontaneously spared a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963, just days before his assassination, but did not grant a “pardon.” The bird was wearing a sign reading, “Good Eatin’ Mr. President.” Kennedy responded, “Let’s just keep him.”

In 1989, George H.W. Bush became the first president to pardon a turkey. Before then, turkeys were presented to the president and consumed by the president.

The concept of a turkey pardoning was first mentioned by president Regan as a joke, but H.W. Bush made it all possible with the following words: “This fine Tom turkey, has been granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

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African American: Something Old, Something New- Holiday Dinner Ideas

Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas, many African Americans look forward to certain foods on the table.  Like most cultures, the holiday favorites consist of very fattening foods.  However, a growing number of African American are finding ways to cut calories without sacrificing flavor.  Furthermore, there are other factors changing expectations for holiday cuisine.  Many Blacks have cross cultural homes.  Over the years, African Americans have begun to have deeper relationships  (marriage, roommates, or friends) with Caucasians, Latinos, Africans, Muslims and West Indians.  Thus the rich Southern
American traditions are slowly becoming  fused with other influences.  More and more people love the idea of Jerk Turkey.  The Caribbean jerk marinade seems logical to contribute great flavor to permeate the turkey.  A great deal of African Americans have moved away from pork, so out goes the ham hock and in goes the smoked turkey parts into the collard greens.  Honestly, either adds great flavor, especially smoked turkey butt.

Despite the recession, many African American income brackets changed since the 1960’s and the choices of food available opened up.  Instead of collards greens, roasted asparagus or swiss chard (tip-sautee in hot chili oil) are viable healthy options.   Personally, I love the idea of Swiss chard with the red & green coloring adding to the table spread.   Furthermore, a growing number of African Americans are vegetarian or vegan(see vegan nut roast recipe).  Moving on to cranberries, believe it or not cranberries do not come in the shape of a can mold. Try cooking the whole fresh cranberries or look for the whole berres in a can.  If you are partial to the can mold, no one is judging.  I am just partial to fresh ingredients.   As we strive to cut some of the calories during the holidays, it is becoming more common to see green salads(See Grilled Kale Salad Recipe) instead of iceberg lettuce salads finding their way to table.

Whatever, we do don’t change the cornbread,  mac & cheese,  or red velvet cake.   Mainstream America loves a good pumpkin pie but bring me the sweet potato pie. We have to draw the line somewhere.

Written by Crystal Johnson-MCCN Editor