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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

Shannon says …

Our family has so many Christmas traditions.... we always make dough ornaments together and we always make a birthday cake for Jesus... Christmas is all about celebrating His birth, after all. But one of th main food traditions the we keep alive year after year is my mom's sweet potatoes w/ marshmellows. I'm not certain that anyone actually likes them, but it's not Christmas without them. Another food tradition is my sister's gingerbread men. She bakes them and when we all get together everyone decorates them together. They taste so yummy and it's such a great way for us to all spend time together. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Marie Mitchell says …

My mom usually makes roast beef and homemade Yorkshire pudding for her son-in-law (my husband), who hails from the Yorkshire region of England!

Stacey says …

I am originally from Minnesota with a Scandinavian background (both Swedish and Norwegian have gotten mixed up over the years), and have taken up all the recipes that my great-grandmother used to make at Christmas--a whole smorgasbord! Artsoppa (yellow pea soup), lefse, Swedish rye bread, potato sausage, and much more. But mostly I became the keeper of all the different cookie recipes: Spritz, Krumkaka, Pepparkakor, Sandbakelser, and others. I'm just happy that we never kept up the tradition of lutefisk that other families continue to make!

Chloe says …

Our family has always had a big Christmas Eve night together with a Huge Turkey breast (organic , of coarse ) and sweet potatoes with cinnamon and agave nectar ... topped with marsh mellows ...and lots of different vegetables , roasted. We read the story of the birth of Jesus and the young ones put on a skit. This is always at Grandma's house since Santa comes there first before their home on Christmas Eve night. And of coarse, there is always pumpkin pie, and usually other surprise desserts.

Jennifer says …

Instead of a big, traditional dinner on Christmas, I make lots of little appetizers: bacon-wrapped dates, brie-en-croute, dips, crackers, veggies, salami, cheeses, etc. We top it all off with a cookie buffet,sampling all the good stuff we've baked over the holiday. It's so fun getting to pick and choose what and how much you get to eat, as well as having a variety of flavors at hand. It's a tradition that will continue for a long time, I'm sure!

Nadia S. says …

I've always loved our Italian family tradition of doing the seven fish dishes for Christmas Eve dinner. I guess it's not so appealing if you're not a fish eater, though. We always have lots of other foods as well.. always a pasta dish or two and lots of veggies, of course.

Christine says …

I don't do any baking all year, but for Christmas, I break out the Kitchen-Aid and make my famous (easy!)Christmas cookies. I'll make several batches and throw in different mix-ins: chocolate chips and walnuts, granola and dried fruit, peanut butter cups. Always a big hit!! Who doesn't love homemade cookies?

Hilary says …

Though my family has few holiday traditions since my mother was an epicure who preferred to change the menu year to year, she often made Brandy Alexanders garnished with freshly grated nutmeg and dark chocolate shavings that we enjoyed while sitting in front of the fireplace. Along with clementines and nuts in the shell (which we'd always find in our stockings), this drink instantly transports me back to all those peaceful Christmas nights with my family.

Amy says …

I make whiskey balls every year as my cookie gifts. It is something my mom always made. I only use Bushmills whiskey and since the cookies aren't baked, you have to be careful not to eat too many in one sitting. You may feel a little tipsy if you do.

Karen S. says …

My husband I are both of Italian heritage and love to have the Feast of the Seven Fishes at our house Christmas Eve. Besides the traditional seafood fare, we do modern twists: i.e., I serve a vegetarian mock tuna as one of the options - blending chick peas, lemon, salt and dulce flakes.

Donna F. says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is baking and decorating holiday cookies.

Adele says …

My favorite tradition for the holidays is preparing foods with recipes that have been in my family for generations.

Jennifer says …

Latkes of course! (The secret is to squeeze all the liquid out of the potatoes and onions.) My family still talks about the year I fried them in duck fat. They were beyond delicious.

Debbie Anderson says …

Fruit Cake!!! Whole Foods makes the best I've ever enjoyed!

David says …

Buckeyes made by my grandmother. I only wish she could make them for me with bourbon like she did for the adults when I was a child.

mjskylark says …

For the last 30 years, I have made Duck A l'Orange for Christmas Eve Dinner. This year will be no different. My children (all grown) will never let me fix anything different!!!!

Cynthia says …

We love to make a salad with pears, cranberries, fresh greens, toasted almonds, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

Julia Vo says …

Peppermint Bark!

Peter says …

My favorite, despite being Irish, is to make Gravlax with a mustard dill sauce. See you next week to pick up the salmon and dill/

Sabrena says …

Both my mother and husband had Dec 25th birthdays. My mother always had a beautiful birthday cake and a sweet and sour boiled dressing Slaw My husband was a minister and had three services Christmas eve so we always had spaghetti with meat sauce and eggplant. His favorite was a birthday apple pie which we had after the spaghetti. My mother passed away three months after my husband of 40 years suddenly left this earth. The holidays are challenging

Melanie says …

It is a Jewish tradition to light a Menorah. (A 9 branch candelabra) which reminds us of how the macabees had only enough oil to burn for 1 day but it lasted for 8. When our kids were little they always wanted to be the one to light the candles, so we ended up collecting menorah's and anyone who comes to our house gets to select candles and light a menorah of their own. Usually we have friends over and sometimes have as many as 10 or 12 lit at once.

Deborah says …

My family is English and Welsh. Every Christmas since I was a small child, my mom & dad spend days making Old English Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce. It takes hours to grind the suet with a hand grinder and then my parents would take turns kneeding the mixture before placing it in a cheesecloth and steaming it in a double boiler for hours. The hard sauce was ridicuously sweet, which made up for pudding! You couldn't eat it without it. My family served it to everyone who stopped by during the holidays, and our family was known as the one who kept this Olde English tradition alive.

Teri says …

During my childhood we went to my maternal grandmothers home on Christmas Eve. It was a great time celebrating tradition and family. My mom's sister made a delicious fresh mushroom soup. It brings back great memories now when my cousin repeats the recipe for our get-togethers.

Susanne says …

Baking and decorating Christmas cookies - yum!

Karen Czerniejewski says …

The first Christmas Eve that my husband and I were together we went to his house for dinner. His father made a ham with Pepsi sauce (cola and brown sugar). This is something they had always made for Christmas. It has been 40 years and we still get together, now at my daughters, who has learned to make this dinner, and enjoy our holiday ham!

jean emery says …

My daughter comes to my house early christmas afternoon. I have a fire going and presents under the tree. And all we have is 'nibbles' . . . shrimp and cocktail sauce, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, olives....easy and all ready so we can just sit, relax, talk and enjoy the fire, christmas carols, and time together.

Shirley says …

Turkey with stuffing made of saltines. Thanksgiving, Christmas, it's all good. Stuffing is good any time.

Cathy Cooke says …

The tradition in my grandmothers shortbread. This recipe is simple but very special. It has 3 ingredients you can buy from the store the rest of the ingredients come from the heart. This recipe was my grandmothers favorite and passed down to my mom who continues to make it every year ( my mom is 85). This shortbread melts in your mouth.

Bethany says …

Every Christmas Eve since I was a little kid my family has had burritos and nachos with margaritas for the adults. I can't imagine a cold Christmas Eve mass without a comforting spicy meal beforehand!

Kimberly says …

In my opinion, stockings are the most exciting part of Christmas morning- but, even that didn't make me want to miss preparing breakfast with Dad. Although I helped in some way as long as long as I can remember, I was probably in my early teens when he taught me to make omelets one Christmas morning. He shared his secrets for flipping, explained the importance of cooking the vegetables prior to adding, and taught me how to crisp bacon perfectly. I lost my father a handful of years later, but the time we spent together in the kitchen will always be some of my best memories. Christmas morning isn't the only time I put his omelet training to use, but it's certainly the most important.

Rebecca says …

Every year since I can remember, my mother always made cranberry muffins, put birthday candles in them and then sang "Happy Birthday." It is probably funny to other people but it was always a tradition of ours. Then, my whole family (even my Jewish dad!) went to church.

Maryann says …

Baking cookies with my siblings!

tracy bourne says …

It isn't Christmas without my grandmother's roll-out cookies, my mom's kiffles (cookies) and my dad's chicken bar-b-q.

Eve Abreu says …

We make loaves of "Pumpkin Bread" and give then out to friends, neighbors and family every Christmas. It's us great joy to share these bountiful loaves of bread.

Wendy says …

Every December I go to my Swedish lodge for the Julbord and indulge in Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce...my absolute favorite!

Maggie M. says …

We make a cranberry tart share on Christmas morning, which we'vesuccessfully veganized. Christmas eve, we gather for dinner before church, and the tradition has been to make black-bean and sweet potato burritos!

hany says …

old family recipes like: steamed sweet rice cake[chestnuts,dried jujubes,cinnamon,sesame oil,pine nuts] ,a kind of punch made w/dryed persimmons,...

johnetta reeves says …

My families favorite holiday tradition for the past 7 years has been to add more healthier items to our list. but we don't make it boring we make it exciting and tasty, a better word may be delicious. Before we started this tradition we would eat buffet style and everyone would just stuff ourselves with all the heavier foods and end the day saying " My I'm stuffed". But we have changed that every year, we now sit down at the table restaraut style with an always delicious vegetable soup. The first year we started off with a scrumpious butternut squash soup with fresh herbs which really intensified the flavor, another years a fire roasted tomated soup with roasted garlic and onions pureed. It is part of the excitement being served an always new and delcious soup over family conversation. Being served such new dished always initiates the topic of other delicious foods we have eaten througout the year. Our family enjoys talking about good food! Then after the soup, we do the same thing with the salad. Every year we serve a new and innovative salad (always something that compliments the main meal. This year at Thanksgiving we served a salad of butter lettuce with a light dressing of Fraiche mixed with fresh tarragon and toasted poppy seeds. It was delicious and a nice introduction to our main meal.

Leslie says …

I make a cranberry sherbert which was my grandmother's recipe. I have the delicate crystal bowls that she used to serve them in.

Richard says …

My favorite food tradition is eating cookies and milk well into the night

Minda says …

Christmas Eve we have cheese fondue and invite anyone whom we encounter who does not seem to have plans. We have pears, apples, sausage, mushrooms, other veggies and all sorts of bread options. It is pure heaven, communal and easy. It doesn’t hurt that I married a man who had two fondue sets!

amber says …

I love tamales- we make them as a family and its always a fun time together!

Michaela says …

Mu favorite holiday traditions started when I was a child and we used to bake all kinds of German Christmas cookies. We baked for hours and they were so yummy. Now that we are in America and I spend Christmas with my husbands family we start cooking for Christmas dinner the night before making casseroles, dressing, cakes, and yummy side dishes. So different but what a wonderful tradition we know have and I hope to pass on to my son.

Danielle J says …

As a Jew, my favorite holiday tradition is the annual family Chrisnukkah party that we organize with our neighbors. So much fun!

Jolene says …

Every year my grandmother makes a big batch of pecan candy. Now that I live far away, I make it myself. It is delicious, but I can only make it in December because it just feels wring any other time of the year!

Nancy says …

Making Very Green Christmas Tree cookies...Started when my children were young.. one year someone put too much color in... Cookies made mouth green Became a favorite of youngsters after that... they are now grown with families of their own and every one continues to make them. Last year my daughter and 2 grandchildren came to visit and we make them together.

billiejean says …

There are so many things I love about Christmas, and this time of year! I love that every year, our family that lives the closest get together and we have a meal and exchange presents.We always do what we call "White Elephant". Which is when we find items in our home that we can wrap up and give at Christmas. It's so much fun seeing what people will give!Last year, I thought it was so funny when my brother had placed a wee little bookmark in a HUGE box! My cousin was expecting something more. :)

katherine garcia says …

My favorite tradition is drinking homemade hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks while opening gifts on Christmas day.

Carole says …

Our family always serves fresh and smoked polish kielbasa for breakfast and/or dinner. Breakfast includes scrambled eggs with all of the fixings. Dinner includes sauerkraut and sausage that has been heated in the crock pot on low for most of the day. Holidays are not the same if it should be missing!

Jo says …

When I first moved to so Fl, I met a wonderful Italian family. then I was introduced to my first traditional Christmas eve dinner. The Seven Fishes. Every year Mr C. prepared an entire meal around seafood. It was great. Now that he and his wife has passed on, it's only a memory. I do my five fish in one dish now. Soup based on a San Fransico dish. Merry Christmas

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