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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

Nicole Shelledy says …

I know this sounds ridiculously simple, but my favorite holiday tradition involving food is getting an orange in my stocking! Santa leaves an orange in my son's stocking every year now, too- it's a simple tradition going back generations in our family, and it always makes me smile.

Amanda says …

Making the whole Christmas dinner with my mom, including pumpkin bread!

Courtney Yin-LaVoie says …

Well my traditions are changing due to a diet change for our family. We have gone Paleo/Primal so now I'm looking for Paleo/Primal friendly versions of our favorites like gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate.

Andres says …

My absolute favorite food tradition is predicting how our next year will be with food. On New Year's Eve, when every member of our family eats twelve grapes (yummy organic grapes!), one for every month of the year so that we will have continuous good luck :D Then we put three oranges under everyone's bed, one is not peeled (good luck), one is fully peeled (bad luck), and one is half peeled (regular year). With the lights off, you reach under your bed and pull out the first one you grab to determine how lucky your year will be.

Julie Elkeshen says …

Ours is a little unconventional. We have always moved around alot with my husband being a hotel manager, so we are often times not with our family. So we started a Christmas Eve Tradition of home made sushi! It stuck and the kids absolutly look forward to it every Christmas Eve. Only in California!

sibel erdem says …

a homemade pecan pie is a must thing to have on the table!

Sherry Higgins says …

The week before Christmas, I make a Hash Brown Omelet with frozen cubed hash browns,eggs,green peppers,onions,cheese and bacon. Then I freeze it until Christmas Eve when I transfer it to the fridge. Christmas morning, I pop it in the oven to warm while we are opening presents. It's ready when we are and the whole family loves it. Almost no clean up is a bonus!

Paula says …

I started doing the Christmas baking for my family at a young age, and the season doesn't seem right if I don't make at least a few different kinds of cookies and some pumpkin bread.

Jem Gartenbush says …

As a Filipino we have a tradition called Noche Buena which we inherited from the Spanish era who ruled the Philippines at one time. We usually take a long nap on Christmas eve then we have our special dinner at 12 midnight which includes filipino food like lechon (whole roast pig), Pansit (rice noodles w/veggies, chicken chorizo etc..., lumpia (eggroll), bbq pork on a stick, which I mastered and my husband and kids definetely likes. For dessert we have leche flan made with 4 egg yolks, 4 whole eggs, condense milk, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla extract and if I may add mine is better than my moms, even my dad asked me to make some for them. For drinks we have buco juice(coconut juice) and we also make bobba drink. After dinner we all gather aroung the Christmas tree and we do our gift exchange. We party all night :)

Stacy Miller says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is to make lots and lots of delicious potato latkes for Hanukah!

Stacy Miller says …

My favorite holiday tradition is to make lots and lots of potato latkes for Hanukah!

leanne says …

my dad was a phenomenal cook and each and every year on new year's eve we would all get together for his famous chili. the best chili i have ever had in my life, made with all fresh veggies and steak, it takes at least 12 hours to make and we would always eat bowls of it with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream. my dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 59 a year and a half ago. i spent a week of trial and error trying to remember how he made it and i FINALLY got it. now every new year's eve i make dad's chili, it's bittersweet to taste it without him, but it's one tradition that i'm proud we keep going, and i think he would be too...

Gretchen says …

My mom makes krumkakas every year to honor her Norwegian heritage. For Christmas Morning we have the same breakfast casserole and then sip on oyster artichoke soup Christmas afternoon to tide us over until Christmas Dinner.

rhoda sia says …

We always followed my mothers Swedish Christmas eve dinner, but the best was always making and eating lefse straight off the grill with real butter, even our dog goes bananas !!! over it .

Rhonda Ricci says …

My family celebrates Christmas Eve with Italian tradition...The night of 7 fishes "La notte di Eve di natale di 7 pesci" and wine with every course. Bacala salad, snail salad, calamari, baked haddock with spinach, baked stuffed shrimp, shrimp and pasta or linguine and clam sauce, clam chowder. Antipasto is served with No meat in honor of Jesus's sacrifice. Limoncello is served. Then dessert is served with homemade wandis and cookies with coffee, espresso, sambuca. Finally I go to midnight mass :)

Cynthia Pryor says …

Traditions are a very important part of our family, especially during the holidays. At Christmas time, I always make Grandma Martinez' Fresh Apple Bread and deliver these delicious loaves to each of my husband's brothers and sisters, so the memory of their grandparents live on for years to come.

Daniela says …

Leftovers for certain. I love that most of my diet in December consists of turkey sandwiches.

Lisa DiCarlucci says …

On Christmas Eve my family makes an entire meal out of appetizers and eats it in our PJs while watching Christmas movies.

Dana says …

My favorite tradition is the passing of the Oplatek, which is a Christmas wafer. We all sit down and before we eat we break a piece off of our own and pass it around. Each of us ends up with pieces of eachother's oplateks and its the first thing I think about every Christmas!

George Mossey says …

Making cupcakes with my kids. We do it every Christmas Eve!

Cassandra says …

I love a Honey Baked Ham and macaroni and cheese. I could do without everything else but I must have my ham.

Amy Brown says …

Every year we gather the kids to make YAM BALLS. The easiest and kid friendly dish in the world. AS soon as they can walk they can cook is the family mantra. Our 3 year old rolls with the best of them. It can be very messy but the laughs in my kitchen is worth any mess!! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/sweet-potato-balls-recipe/index.html

Cynthia Pryor says …

Another favorite Holiday Food tradition is sharing Christmas Eve with our family eating Mexican Food in honor of our parents and our heritage. My sister's home made Hot Tamales are my mother's famous recipe; my husband's Carnitas are to die for; everyone says our Chicken Flautas are the best ever; and we can not forget the Sopa de Arroz and Frijoles Borrachos or the Guacamole, Salsas and Tortillas among other things. Oh what a night..Si Senor! Todo es muy delicioso.

Alyssa says …

Pretzel salad, it's the bomb dignity! Pretzel crust, cream cheese middle, with strawberry jello on top. It's a must at every holiday dinner.

Sarah says …

Every Christmas eve my family going to my grandparent's house to have a big feast with honey roasted ham, and we sing the 12 days of Christmas.

Pearl D. says …

Every Christmas Eve we make a huge batch of Dolmas. Yum!! My personal favorite is the mulled red wine with all the spices (my 97 year old nonnis recipe) the whole house smells amazing.

Annoek says …

Every year at the start of the holiday season our friends begin putting their request in for our mom's signature 7-Up Cake. Everyone that has ever tried it always raves about how light and fluffy it is and how much they love it. When asked what they want for a gift, most reply that they want cake. These cakes have become the gift that we make to show our appreciation to some of the people most important in our lives. I love how something so simple can make so many people so happy.

Colleen says …

We always make Pepparkakor, a Swedish gingersnap. We have Swedish ancestry, and the tradition makes Christmas even more special.

Dani says …

Chinese food on Christmas!!!!

Linda Park says …

My family enjoys making home-made latkes for Chanukah with fresh potatoes, and lots of onions. We fry it in healthy oil that we bought at Whole Food and then the house smells like potato pancakes for days after.

Margot Waid says …

Every year my mother and I always makes TONS of cookies of various types from her childhood and ones I have learned to bake and love. Of course we make more than what my family can handle, so we always give away trays to neighbors and friends as well as those who don't have anyone to spend Christmas with, on Christmas day while chatting with them about memories and eating our large selection of goods! It is our time to give back and enjoy different people's company.

Jacqueline Martinez says …

Every year, my mom makes tons of homemade sugar cookies in different Christmas shapes, buys decorating materials (icing, candy, sprinkles, etc) and all the kids, and oftentimes adults, decorate their own cookies. It's a highlight of our night! My favorite part is seeing my mom turn into a kid by decorated at least three cookies!

Sarah says …

My favorite food tradition is a fairly new one in our family, and a little weird! We eat oysters every year the day after Christmas, fresh from the waters off the South Carolina coast where my parents live. There's nothing better than a freshly steamed oyster on a saltine with hot sauce and maybe a little coleslaw. Yum!

Milka says …

My moms Xmas dinner is roasted duck with red cabbage and dumplings!

Julie Morrissey says …

Christmas Eve and the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Growing up Catholic, my family has always celebrated this as one of the largest, and most festive occasions of the entire year and is supposed to bring you luck in the new one. 7 different fish dishes, shared amongst not only family and friends, but the entire community before midnight mass. As I travel for a living, I have spent many a Christmas Eve in a strange town, in a strange part of the world, with co-workers I may have only just met. In my personal effort to keep the tradition alive, even on the smallest scale,some of the BEST dishes have been those put together by just asking the chef of the restaurant at the hotel I happened to just check in to, to come up with something "on the fly". Many chefs have taken the time to personally come out, and ask about the tradition, therefore creating a little piece of home and community for ALL of us at the table, regardless of religion or ethnicity. The best part comes from the fact that most of the time, the seafood is local, with local flair, and I get to cherish a creation that leaves me with not only a satisfied tummy, but a warm heart and makes me feel like I am not so far away from home and family after all. :)

Theresa says …

Every year my mom makes a Christmas tree-shaped cake and has the kids decorate it with candy and frosting. After dinner we put candles on it and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. It's a nice activity and also reminds us what Christmas is about.

kalli meisler says …

my favorite holiday food tradition: latkes, sour cream and apple sauce (for Hanukkah). My grandma has always had an electric skillet (one that is deep and plugs into the wall). I can never compete with how great her latkes (potato pancakes) tasted- and as each year of her "cooking retirement" goes on I crave her cooking MORE. I now have her skillet in Brooklyn- and I'm trying to keep up her momentum. Hanukkah party at my apartment (once I get the gift card) :)

Isabella G says …

My Italien family has "The Feast Of The Seven Fishes.". I try to eat all seven, but mussels are not my thing. Even though we have many fishes, we ALWAYS have some kind of pasta. Who doesn't?!

Dana says …

For many generations my family has begun its holiday dinner with plated hachiya persimmons in front of each place. The persimmon is cut into quarters like a lotus flower, with mint or another herb in the center. Using a spon we scoop out the sweet fleshy fruit as our first starter. It's festive (red & green) gets the digestive track in gear for the huge dinner to follow and is delicious.

James says …

Homemade gingerbread houses!

Kathleen Turner says …

After my dad died in 1993, my mom decided she wasn't up to making the traditional big Christmas meal of turkey and all the trimmings. Instead, she purchased tamales and queso from her favorite Mexican restaurant and began a new tradition that continues until today. With tamales and queso in the steamer and crock pot respectively, Mom is free to enjoy the day without being stuck in the kitchen cooking. The rest of us bring appetizers or desserts, which works out great.

Seth D says …

My wife's family is Italian, so for the past ten years our best holiday tradition is the feast of the fishes on Christmas eve. My favorite dish is cioppino with cod, scallops, shrimp and crab. It's delicious, and it helps get us to the proper number to fish (13) without making 13 dishes. On Christmas morning, we always make French toast with panettone, a tasty Italian bread. These are easily my two favorite food days of the year.

Laura Royal says …

We do an all day bake-a-thon, making cookies and lots of sweeties for the holidays

Sharyn says …

It's hard for me to make the same things year after year. There are too many wonderful recipes out there. However, one tradition, handed down by my Hungarian grandmother, is the making of nut rolls and poppy seed rolls. Another word for them is "poteca". Walnuts are ground and mixed with brown sugar and maple extract. Rich sweet yeast dough is rolled out to a thin rectangle and spread with the mixture, then rolled and baked. The poppy seed roll is done similarly, with white sugar and the addition of golden raisins. Traditionally, this is our breakfast on Christmas morning. No preparation necessary--just slice and eat.

Christina Childress says …

My favorite holiday tradition is our feast of 7 fishes on Christmas eve!! Its an Italian tradition!!

Amy says …

My favorite holiday tradition is going to Disneyland every year in December. We live in Southern California, so it is just a short drive. All of the holiday decorations and snow down Main Street really get me in the Christmas spirit! I don't think I'll ever be too old for that tradition.

Pam says …

As a kid we always went to my Aunt's house for Christmas and I always ate the same meal. Broccoli and rice casserole, ambrosia salad, and peanut butter cookies with Brach's chocolate stars in the middle.

Micah Rose says …

Collard greens with smoked turkey! Lovely!

Brande says …

The food that always lets me know that the holiday has come in my family is my aunt's sausage balls! She's always been a great cook - and even passes the recipe on to everyone, but they're not quite the same unless she makes them. They are always a part of the appetizer course and when I'm longing for home (2,000 miles away) I take chicken sausage from the casing and mix it together with herbs, pancake/biscuit mix and a light but pungent cheese and voila!

Preston Bigler says …

On the 23rd of each December my family celebrates "Fiestivus" by having a Mexican style Christmas feast and party - a tribute to our Mexican and Southwestern heritage. It has since branched out to become an international celebration of a different country, its food and culture each year. Last we was Greece. This year is France. I better wear my stretchy pants!

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