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Your Favorite Holiday Food Tradition

No other time of year is so richly steeped in tradition than the holiday season, and lucky for us, lots of those traditions involve cooking, eating and sharing great food. We’ve all got memorable dishes and must-make recipes connected to this time of year. Maybe it’s Uncle Charlie’s extra-strong eggnog or Grandma Ruth’s red cabbage sauté. How about your own famous scalloped potatoes or a special-batch baklava you make every New Year’s Eve? We want to know about your treasured holiday food tradition. Tell us about it in the comments section below by December 21 and we’ll pick a winner at random to receive a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card. To get in the spirit, we asked some Team Members to share their favorite food traditions. From Mara: "Our family is part Puerto Rican and we celebrate Christmas each year with paella. My mother-in-law spends the entire day cooking and makes her own sofrito as the base seasoning for the rice. While I love Christmas dinner, my favorite is leftover paella — it seems to even be more flavorful the next day." From Anna: "When invited out on Christmas I ALWAYS bring a huge green salad with lots of crispy fresh veggies with mandarin sections and dried cranberries. I use a light lime dressing. It is a tangy wonder that offsets all of the heavy food we love to eat this time of year." From Jennifer: "The children in our Chinese-American family insist on traditional holiday food – stuffing, ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, casseroles — the works! A few years back, one of my cousins who isn’t big on cooking ordered noodles from a Chinese restaurant as his contribution. Now our holiday meals aren't complete without some takeout Chinese noodles — it's the one dish at our table guaranteed not to have any leftovers." From Elizabeth: "For the past four years, my nephew and I have baked molasses cookies while listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. The cookies have gotten tastier as he's gotten older, and now we know the songs by heart." From Betsy: "It's an unofficial Jewish tradition to go out for Chinese food on Christmas, so last Christmas Eve, my husband, in-laws and I decided to try a hole-in-the-wall Chinese barbecue joint. We enjoyed an amazing feast of Peking duck, hot and sour soup, fried rice, Chinese broccoli and all of the fixings. It was so good we now plan to ring in Christmas every year with Chinese barbecue." From Allison: "My husband’s family in Houston does tamales and chili every Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law makes the chili and the tamales come from our favorite Mexican restaurant down the street, and we open presents with plenty of hot sauce on the side." What’s your favorite food tradition of the holiday season? Share it with us by December 21 for the chance to win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card. We can’t wait to hear about your festive feasting traditions! The fine print: No purchase necessary. Promotion ends December 21, 2011. Must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (except in Quebec, where it is void) age 18 or older to participate. Taxes on prize, if applicable, are the responsibility of the winner. Employees of Whole Foods Market, Inc., are not eligible. Void where prohibited.

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1104 comments

Comments

Cynthia says …

It's not Christmas Eve without homemade tamales. My mother grew up in the valley (south Texas), and her family started the tradition. Sadly, we don't get tamales made by someone we know anymore, but we still make sure to start off the Christmastide with our tamales. The few years we couldn't get together to do it just weren't the same!

kat says …

I love that on any given Christmas or Thanksgiving we have such a plethora from our friends'/family's different cultures represented at the tables.... Tamales, Tandoori, Scallion Cakes, Cajun Turkey, etc. etc. etc!

eileen Hamilton says …

Several years ago, I realized that parents were getting stressed out with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. While they were running around shopping and trying to meet as many of the holiday 'obligations' with office parties, etc, it seemed like the children were missing out on some of the holiday cheer. I started a tradition of inviting all of the neighborhood children to my house for a day of cookie baking. We have a grand time of decorating the cookies for the Christmas season, including any holidays that they choose. They decorate the bags for the season and separate their cookies. The parents and children get the gift of time and the children have home made gifts to give to whomever they wish.

Dina Maulucci says …

My favorite Holiday food tradition is homemade desserts, last year I made dark chocolate mint bark and pumpkin cheesecake...it was amazing. No store bought desserts for my family on Christmas, although Whole Foods does have wonderful desserts.

Natasha says …

Gingerbread! This year I found a recipe for grain free using almond flour & lots of nourishing eggs. I'm very excited to make these & I hope they turn out well :)

Sara says …

I have many favorite traditions involving food and Christmas, but my absolute favorite has to be Christmas breakfast. We have tea and scones to tide us over during the morning, and then in the afternoon make a gigantic breakfast consisting of eggs, pancakes, bacon, french toast, blueberry oatcakes, and coffee. I love it! We're all just there relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Chava says …

I've started a new tradition of having Sunja's medium Spicy Kim Chi with Latkes (potato pancakes). I love Kim Chi with lots of different dishes and wanted to be able to enjoy it with holiday foods as well!

Terri says …

We veganize the traditional southern meal for prosperity on New Year's Day. No hog jowls for us. We eat greens for paper money, corn bread for gold coins, and black-eyed peas for good luck.

Jessa Madosky says …

I started making pralines for Christmas presents the year I moved to New Orleans for grad school - now I'm not allowed to stop. This year we moved to Georgia and I'm using the pecans we collected from the tree in our back yard to make the pralines - I can't wait to try them!

carmen says …

It is not Christmas if we don't make our traditional Campania (South of Italy) Christmas sweets with la nonna: zeppole, struffoli and chestnut and chocolate filled calzoncelli!

Megan says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is decorating cookies with my daughter! She loves to slather the icing and toppings onto gingerbread and sugar cookies, so we do them a little at a time all season long. She's five, so right now they come out a little avant garde but still very edible!

Maura says …

I will always remember my mom cooking endlessly Pre Xmas eve. She cooks turkey the Mexican way: gets the turkey drunk with wine and rubs a mixture of butter and garlic chili paste all over it and stuffs it with a spicy pork/beef mixed with raisins, almonds and olives. On Xmas eve we usually have the turkey with several sides. Then comes XMAS and we have the turkey leftovers in a Mexican torta. This is the best part for me... I wait for it and I think about it all year. The turkey is reheated altogether with white meat, dark meat, gravy and ooooh the stuffing. In a bolillo (Mexican white bread) we put a layer of refried beans, mustard, avocado, salsa, mayo and the turkey mix. OH this OH so good!!!! You have to wash it down with a cold mexican coca cola and a lot of ice. Can't wait until Xmas!!!

Valencia says …

my mommy my daughter & myself cook together and even though we have alot of things we cook every year its more about the time in the kitchen together everyone wants mom & i to make the dressin cuz they say it is better than anyone elses we fix a pretty traditional Christmas dinner things we always do are.... dressing turkey greenbean cass sweet potato cass deviled eggs choc pie pecan pie but the 1 thing i always hear is the fav thing i make are sausage balls we have a new tradition we have started with the new baby there is 17 years between the baby & the new baby so we are doing gingerbread houses me and bothe the babies

stefani heller says …

when i moved to nebraska in 97, i was introduced to oyster dressing. it has since become my favorite dish over the holidays, and this past thanksgiving i made it myself for the first time. when i go to ny this year for the holidays, i will be introducing my family to this absolutely delicious dish and i can't wait!!!

Amanda Peterson says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is for New Year's Eve/Day. My mom always told us to eat a piece of herring for good luck to start the new year. When I lived in Spain for a year, I learned that they eat 12 grapes for good luck, one for each stroke of the clock at midnight. I've gathered many food traditions since then and make sure to do them all each year, just for fun. It's a nice multicultural experience for my own son now.

Annie says …

My favorite holiday tradition is wowing the family with delicious vegan goodies! Especially a pumpkin spice cake with all natural ingredients from Whole Foods!

Ellen Wagner says …

My beloved Granny, who died 20 years ago, was a great cook. She invented a recipe for her own sugared pecans and gave me a mimeographed copy of the recipe on yellow paper that I pull out every year to make the pecans. It starts: "melt a stick of real butter"; this is the essence of how particular she always was to use real, high-quality ingredients. I can still see her bending over the cookie sheet, turning the pecans in their meringue coating on the buttery surface, then putting them back into the oven for the next round of baking. This year I got out her recipe and made a batch to send to my mother, sister, brother-in-law, and brother. I know Granny's pecans will say "Christmas" to them, too.

Brittin Elise says …

Our Christmas eve tradition is to have Mexican inspired dishes for dinner...something new to the menu each year...last year we had wonderful empanadas with different fillings..this year...still thinking about what to have. Our Christmas day dinner is traditional with turkey, ham, stuffing, mashers, and all the wonderful sides!

katie says …

Every Christmas Eve since I can remember my mother makes an amazing Beef Wellington with a huge tenderloin (where the filet mignon steaks are cut from). For at least a decade we have entrusted the responsibility of this amazing cut of beef to Whole Foods, and we have never been disappointed. Now as an adult I still bring my family to my parents' house to enjoy this decadent Christmas Eve dinner, we look forward to it all year long!

Carol says …

We have mustard crusted filet mignon for Christmas dinner. It is absolutely divine. That and the Christmas cookies I make with my niece when she is in town, or I am by her. Good memories!

ron drake says …

First One: Home-made eggnog w/home-made Viennese Crescents(Pecan Sandies) after putting up the Christmas tree. Been doing this for 36 years. It's a wonderful time to reflect on the blessings of the past year, and to fondly remember our family & friends, living & deceased, and the rich memories we still treasure of them all.

Jessica says …

My family is Polish on my father's side, and Christmas Eve dinner was traditionally meatless for us. There was always some kind of fish, but the stand out dishes in my opinion were the homemade potato and cheese pierogies and, although not very Polish, a mushroom bisque from a Stouffer's cookbook (my father worked for Stouffer's). I don't attempt the pierogies myself, but it just isn't Christmas Eve without that bisque!

Sarah Garvey says …

My favorite holiday food tradition would be all the pies we bake. When our family gets together for Christmas, we make so many pies. I believe last year we had 12 all together!

Alexis says …

Our family traditions ALWAYS start with family and friends bringing their own empty dishes to our house, which are then used to fill the left-overs with. They then take them back home to enjoy later. We make extras for this purpose. Our other tradition is to go up to each person, and tell them why you appreciate them in your life. Talk about a party!!!!!!Everyone leaves happy.

Teresa says …

Having a casual meal of pork barbecue sandwiches on Christmas Eve.

Eva says …

I am from Hungary. Every year I am making poppy seed rolls. (BEIGLI) It is always a real treat.To grind the poppy seeds I use coffee grinder.

lillian says …

Baking cookies, breads, and making fudge has become the most beloved tradition in our home during the holidays. We share our baked goods with teachers, neighbors, friends, and family in decorative tins.

Julie says …

I always make a bread for Christmas. Sometimes it's the usual cranberry quick bread; other times I use my bread machine and come up with an ethnic Christmas bread. I enjoy trying different Christmas traditions from around the world, and the bread machine helps me save time.

Ria says …

As a cruel and evil parent, we have a tradition of having cinnamon rolls and homemade hot cocoa on Christmas morning *before* we can open any presents. Ahhhh.... delicious anticipation.

Rachelle says …

Every year the kids and I make all sorts of cookies. We go to my husbands families house for Christmas eve and have Mexican tamales and Guatemalan tamales. We then go to my grandparents house and wake up Christmas morning, and every year my 83 year old Grandfather makes the best over easy eggs with bacon and wassail. The smell of the wassail, and the bacon and eggs are the best smell ever.

Kim says …

I love to make red & green enchiladas for Christmas Eve. Festive and spicy!

ron drake says …

This tradition goes back generations into my late mother-in-law's family(Doris Gray of the Wilson & White families). She continued it as long as she lived, and my wife continues even today. She prepares a double recipe (or as much as may be needed) of home-made Boiled Custard and chills in fridge in their original crock from the family farm. This is served after Christmas dinner with either home-made Coconut Cake or home-made Viennese Crescents ( or both). Some of the older ones still like to add a little "spirits" into the custard, but mostly, we drink it as is with great memories of our countless blessings of friends & family, past & present. Even when one or more are absent from the big family dinner, they always call & say- have a cup of custard for me. You are in my heart and in my prayers.

Sue Saunders says …

My paternal Grandmother came with her parents on a ship from Sweden in 1904 when she was just 2 years. She passed away in 1988, but many of the foods she served for Christmas are still prepared by many of her grandchildren. The ones I make every Christmas Eve are Swedish meatballs and rice pudding - don't forget to put an almond in the rice pudding - Swedish tradition says that whoever gets the almond in their serving will be the next one to get married. Somehow my grandmother always seemed to give that serving to a grandchild who was of an age to marry!

Laurie Newberry says …

We bake cookies! Cookies, cookies, cookies! All kinds of them. And fudge! And then we give it away to friends and neighbors. Well, most of it.

Lauree Hill says …

The tradition that I remember the most is christmas breakfast, We always had Waffles, real whipped cream and of course strawberries and warm maple syrup. With Dad working SHift work we never knew year to year when christmas dinner would be early or late. Breakfast though was early as we were not allowed to open gifts until we had waffles! Till this day I make them and its not christmas if we do not.

Debbie Moore says …

My dad had a non-wealthy German background. We've had potato pancakes for Christmas dinner for as long as I can remember. Grated potato, a little milk, and flour to reach pancake consistency, then fried. We salt them, then eat them. Yum!

Chiree says …

Of course besides the very obvious Christmas Candy Cane tradition in our home, I always have Light Eggnog in our house to add to our favorite freshly brewed Coffee in the cool mornings. For family gatherings I am the Goat Cheese Girl. I buy my favorite Chevre or Goat Brie at Whole foods and start making a fruit compote to drizzle over the top of it with delicious crushed pecans or toasted walnuts/Almonds. If I make my Apple Vanilla Cinnamon drizzle I top the Goat Log with pecans. If I make my Cranberry Cinnamon Compote I top the Goat Log with crushed walnuts and orange zest. Enjoy this appetizer with Pomello Sauvignon Blanc by Mason Cellars, or Dreaming Tree Chardonnay. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays !

BarnesCF says …

My aunt always makes me dad mexican wedding cakes as part of his present and thankfully he shares! We also always have some kind of coffee cake or cinnamon roll for breakfast on Christmas morning. It used to be a Saralee Coffee Cake, but now that we're older, I've been making homemade cinnamon rolls for the family.

June Ferris says …

Years back when I was still the family cook AND still trying to please my dear husband, I created a substitute for his favorite cornbread dressing. His mother refused to share her recipe, but most in books contained loads of fat and salt anyway. We had discovered healthy eating, and a little co-op in Austin (we were still in Waco) that would one day expand into Whole Foods. My recipe is relatively simple, called Brown Rice and Walnuts, and we think it requires homemade NOT canned cranberry sauce. People who turn noses up at brown rice rave about this yummy side dish.....which can also make for us a happy veggie meal!

anne says …

My favorite holiday tradition is making cedar boxes and aprons to give. Also, I love to make kische and Christmas cookies.........Give one, keep one for my family; give one, keep one (on the food)

Christian says …

I love pomegranates. Submerging them in water, fishing out the seeds, eating them on ice cream, salads. Making sauces and juice spritzers. Thinking of new ways to enjoy them and the season that brings them.

Sue Braden says …

Christmas is the time for Saffron Buns at our house! My English Grandma made them all the time....that's when Saffron wasn't so "dear"! Grandma's gone but my sister and I make them under the tutelage of my mom. My granddaughters ask for them and are showing interest in learning to make them. Even tho Saffron is the most expensive spice we treat our family to the wonderful yellow, fruity buns at Christmas. Today I am making a batch to send to my son in California.....the only thing on his Christmas list!

Patty says …

Every Christmas morning we go to Waffle House for a BIG breakfast. Then we tip the server BIG time!!!

Monique Mitchell says …

My family is from Cuba and we roast a whole pig in the backyard. An awesome tradition!

Gerry cowan says …

Traditional Irish dish...carrots and parsnips, boiled to soft and then mashed together with salt and pepper and a bit of butter. My mother always made these for us and we always knew it was a special ocassion when they were on the table. This year, I decided to grow my own carrots and parsnips in the garden. My farmer friend said parsnips were too hard to grow, but ours did just fine and i am eagerly anticipating picking fresh, home-grown carrots and parsnips for my christmas dinner table! See them here: www.sharecsa.blogspot com

Beth Williams says …

The week before Christmas everyone in my family descends on me and begs for fudge. So as they are hovering around I make several different types of fudge. First there is plain chocolate fudge, then almond butter fudge, peanut butter fudge, and finally cashew butter fudge. I have shopped at Whole Foods for 25 years and of course all of the ingredients come from Whole Foods. So since my son has moved to CA from FL he will be getting all of this fudge in the mail so this will start another tradition.

Kelly M says …

Always chocolate covered peanut butter balls or buck eyes depending on where you are..a holiday tradition that means the season has arrived!

Bart Turchin says …

My favorite Christmas tradition is going to service Christmas Eve and then getting the entire family for everyone's favorite appetizers and listening to Christmas music.Trying to save room for the huge dinner that will follow the next day.Just spending quality time with the family this time of year is such a blessing. I truly enjoy it.

Beverly says …

Love baking Christmas Snowflake Sugar cookies. Love to bake, and then have the grandchildren come decorate them to their hearts content...making memories just like my mother did with me.

Rhonda GRaham says …

Moving several states away from family (and where we had always lived), my husband, two daughters and I had to create our own traditions and special holiday times. We began by cooking a beautiful dinner on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day; Salmon, standing rib roast and twice-baked potatoes. On Christmas day, we snack on cheeses, candies and leftovers; cold salmon, prime rib sandwiches and re-heated potatoes. I had to make sure we cooked more than we could eat in one sitting because the girls would compete for the leftover twice baked potato! Pajamas and snacking all day on delicious leftover treats is my favorite tradition!

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