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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

Christina says …

My mother has a recipe for Date Nut Bread that has been passed down several generations and I look forward to it every year. She only makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if I don’t get a piece of it with whipped cream cheese on top… my holiday is just not complete. It’s not too sweet, and the cream cheese compliments is perfectly. Mmmmm… I can taste it now!

Lynne says …

Growing up, I loved gathering around my grandparent's table with all my cousins. My grandpa would make Polish sausage from scratch as a complement to my grandma's homemade pierogies (fried in butter, of course). After my grandfather passed away, the tradition faded. Now my husband and I gather with my parents, brother, niece and nephews and *we* make dinner from scratch and try to get the kids involved too. The holidays are hectic and I don't look forward to much, but I always look forward to that chaotic Christmas dinner celebration.

hanna says …

My family has chill on Christmas eve. Not sure why but it's just want we do!

Christina says …

I am famous in my family for the cinnamon bread that I make for Christmas morning. One other holiday tradition is the lasagna that my mom makes for new years eve. I recently moved away from my family, but my husband and I are hosting a new years eve dinner and I plan to make lasagna using mom's recipe.

Nicole says …

Every Year I bake over 100 cookies in multiple varities and distribute to my 15 family members. They look forward to them each holiday season and I really love to bake them as well!

Arelys says …

Our Holiday tradition is cooking a roasted pork shoulder and rice with green pigeon peas every Xmas. Plus, Rice pudding made with coconut milk for dessert. Mmmm!!

Marco Pontes says …

I grew up in Brazil where most people eat turkey for Christmas. Another big Christmas tradition in Brazil is preparing a variety of cod dishes, which is an inheritance from our Portuguese ancestors. So, every year I like to cook at least one cod recipe for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Ana says …

One of my favorite holliday traditions is to eat Panettone for breakfast after opening presents on Christmas morning! I am from Brazil and Panettone is quite popular there for Christmas, especially in a family with an Italian grandmother like mine. It may sound simple but it is so nice and remind me of my childhood, my patents, and my grandmother. We didin't have a lot of money growing up so the Panettone was always a treat. Today I just love eating it with my son after he opens presents. He loves Panettone and is a tradition we kept and both enjoy, as it brings us closer to our Brazilian family, even though we are a few miles away! Ana

diane oconnor says …

Cookies ... it has to be the many kinds we make each year. They bring back such wonderful memories of my Grandmother and Mother. I just love pulling out old recipe cards with notes written by family members. The wonderful smell floating through out the house as the cookie bake and the many basket made for gifts. It is that one part of Christmas that is so special

Pamela McAlpin says …

My mother loved the holidays. She would get this excited look in her eyes just after Thanksgiving as she made her list of the cookies, pies and cakes she would make for Christmas. One year, she even made divinity and homemade caramels. It was always a time for family and feasting. I miss her.

Jillana says …

For the last 55 years, our family gathers around the holiday table in anticipation of the deliciously prepared meal with all the fixings. A staple at our family table, a tradition dating back even before I was born, was the brightly colored, lightly lime scented, melt in your mouth green jell-o salad. Now this is not your typical jell-o salad, no my mother's recipe is so scrumpdillyishus, sometimes I could even skip dessert, yes, it is that good. Pineapple, cottage cheese, lime jell-o, melted marshmallows, are all the starring ingredients in this fluffy and timeless tradition. December 25, 2011, it will be front and center on our holiday table - it's a tradition!

Juliette says …

Our Christmas day dinner always includes Yorkshire pudding. My mother has perfected a recipe that has been handed down for generations, and nothing tastes more like Christmas to me. I'll take it over mashed potatoes any day!

Nancy Walton says …

No one in our family likes turkey. Really! And so we've opted to eat out over the years, either at our local church or some Chinese Restaurant, but this year I want the homey-ness of a Christmas family dinner. Starting with Butternut Squash Soup, I will be cooking a chicken instead, having wild rice with Pecans, and stringbeans topped with melted cheese. My mother is from the south so we'll have a side dish of okra fritters. For Dessert? Hmmm....nothing like Chocolate Mousse!

Jennie Wojtaszek says …

My family ancestors are mostly from Denmark, and on Christmas morning we all share a family breakfast of these wonderful round hollow crepe-like pancakes called Aebleskivers. As my siblings and I siblings have grown up and moved away from each other, we continue this tradition with our families - every Christmas morning. The new wives are taught how to make them - with the right pan as a gift - and the new husbands all LOVE them! It's kind of cool to think that we are all doing the same thing Christmas morning, even when we cant be together. We continue handing down this tradition - and now the grandkids are learning to make and enjoy them too!

Yelena says …

While my family is a loud & festive group of Jews from Russia, I married a good ol' Wisconsin farm boy. So as you can imagine, there is lots of randomness around the holidays. We always go to his mom's family on Christmas eve for appetizers and good conversation. And then we celebrate Christmas day the Jewish way: at a Chinese restaurant. For us the holidays have always been a time to see all sides of both families.

Shannon says …

My Mum makes the best Ponche-de-Creme (Trini alcoholic eggnog, essentially).

Debbie says …

I grew up with candied yams, green bean & artichoke heart casserole, and pecan pie for the holidays. Now I am making those recipes vegan and gluten free!

Bria says …

I enjoy baking hundreds of dozens of cookies with my sister as a tradition that my slovak grandmother taught us. I love making some of the recipes that she learned from her grandmother! We give the cookies as gifts over the holidays, and everyone always looks forward to them...along with the stories :)

Karen says …

My family makes cinnamon buns with white chocolate cream cheese frosting together every Christmas morning to wake up the stragglers with the amazing smells that fill up the house! YUM!

Kristen G says …

My family is Italian so every Christmas Eve we have seven fishes along with homemade pasta. We also make homemade mozzarella sticks for the kids. This day is so special to me because as the oldest grandchild I have been the only one allowed to help my grandmother cook for the past ten years. My entire family comes over, usually about 25 people. In the evening we all do a gift exchange. This has always been my favorite day of the year because our family is all together and my family has been doing this tradition for over 50 years. Additionally my family is involved with the local fire company so Santa Claus always comes to our house on a fire truck.

Cindy says …

I enjoy baking cookies for my kids, family and friends. Recipes from my Grandmothers, Wonderful Memories! Spritz, frosted sour cream cake cookies, chocolate crinkles, shortbread, peanut butter blossoms, candy cane cookies...Yumm!!

Ozzie says …

Every year we have the same Christmas meal. I bake huge cinnamon rolls lathered in cream cheese frosting. Then the kids open their presents. For brunch we have bagels lox and cream cheese with all the fixings! Throughout the day we snack on various appetizers cheeses and salami's and crackers. And for dinner I always make a huge prime rib roast with twice baked potatoes and baby carrots cooked in butter and brown sugar. I have a large family and now that the kids are getting older they are able to help with the cooking. I truly love this time of year and get so much pleasure having all 10the of us around the dinner table for this special feast.

Gloria High says …

A favorite holiday tradition of mine dates back to my grandma and her wonderful homemade country style cooking. She always made the best of the best dressing and the most magnificant rolls! These rolls were just plain rolls purchased from the grocery store but my grandma would mix up the best receipe for an icing she would apply to the top of the rolls before baking! The receipe called for some powdered sugar,melted butter and rum flavoring or real rum. Mix it together and spread on top of dinner rolls and bake for allotted amount of time and these rolls were the best of the best! I can still taste and smell them today! Wonderful memories of my grandma and so how I miss her so very much! I think I will have to buy some rolls and mix up some of that famous special icing of my grandma's!

Courtney says …

Every year the Christmas dinner table was filled with vegetables grown in the tiny family garden in my maternal grandparent's West Virginia backyard. Hundreds of jars of vegetables lined the basement shelves. Our family's favorite vegetable was pink tip beans (pink tip half runners.) My grandfather told us an elaborate story about the origin of the pink tip (Holland) and how we were the only family in the United States growing these beans. All of us grandchildren were mindful of our responsibility to keep this heirloom seed alive. One holiday was spent with father's family in North Carolina. I was shocked to see a large bowl of pink tip beans on the table. A sweet little old lady said "Honey, I bet you've never seen picktip beans before." "Oh I have seen them before. My grandfather said he was the only person in the United States still growing pink tip beans." "Aw, your grandfather is joshing you. Pink tip beans are the only runners that grow in the cold rocky soil up here in the mountains." Every Christmas, after my enlightenment, my grandfather would still tell the story of the pinktip green beans and how we were the only family in the United States growing these very special beans. Then, he would look at me and smile with a mischievous little twinkle in his eye. It was our Christmas secret.

maryann says …

For my family, it is an Italian feast with stuffed shells, Sunday gravy, shrimp scampi, bean and escarole soup and a buffet of assorted pastries, Italian cookies and more.

Julia S says …

My family loves to get together hot pot, which is a Chinese style fondue. It such a comfort food when it's cold outside!

Megan Wilbers says …

It may be common but it means so much to everyone, Sugar Cookies!~

Cheri says …

Going to church services on Christmas Eve and coming home to egg nog and baked goodies. Special time!

Mirela says …

Growing up my family ate fish on Christmas Eve. It was usually fried, with potato salad and some other sides and maybe a fish soup/stew. When I moved away from home, my husband and I started our own traditions, but it still had to be seafood. We don't eat meat on Christmas Eve, or animal products like butter or eggs (this is how I grew up, and I can't imagine doing it any differently), so there's no dessert on Christmas Eve until after midnight. As an alternative, for the past several years, I've been putting out a variety of nuts and dried fruit after dinner. It satisfies the sweet tooth, and gives everyone something to nibble on over drinks. Now, I can't imagine a Christmas Eve without the dried fruit and nuts.

Nancy Walton says …

No one in our family likes turkey. Really! And so we've opted to eat out over the years, either at our local church or some Chinese Restaurant, but this year I want the homey-ness of a Christmas family dinner. Starting with Butternut Squash Soup, I will be cooking a chicken instead, having wild rice with Pecans, and stringbeans topped with melted cheese. My mother is from the south so we'll have a side dish of okra fritters. For Dessert? Hmmm....nothing like pudding - Chocolate Mousse!

Bill Doyle says …

My late father made the absolute BEST bread and sausage stuffing for our holiday turkey! It was a big production that started days ahead of time and culminated on the day the bird was cooked whether that be Thanksgiving or Christmas.I can still smell the poultry seasoning permeating the house throughout the day. Now years later, and myself a Certified Executive Chef; it still brings me back to my childhood and helping Pop make his signature stuffing!

Christine says …

Every Christmas Eve we celebrate it with Swedish meatballs, Korv(swedish sausage), Vortlimpa (rye bread w/orange peel & anise),Carrots w/cheese sauce plus swedish hard tack & farmers cheese. For desserts swedish spritz from my Nanny's recipe, they just melt in your mouth. Brings back wonderful memories of holidays of early time and place.

Amy Verhey says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is our breakfast on Christmas. My family is full of five completely different foodies. We each enjoy our certain treat but as a whole love to dine on unique, comfortable or extravagant but most importantly wholesomely good food. Breakfast has never been eggs and bacon with my family and the feelings on Christmas morning add to our meal. My favorite is a dutchbaby pancake with lemon and powdered sugar, chicken-apple sausage links and fresh squeezed orange juice, WITH pulp. It isn't Christmas without this, bon appetit.

Rose says …

Our favorite holiday tradition is to have totally edible decorations on the tree, on the holly on the mantle, etc. String popcorn and cranberries, decorate cookies to hang on the tree, candy canes, popcorn balls, lollypops, gingerbread men,chocolate santas (inc white chocolate)... good to sneak a snack, and nothing gets thrown out, and start again fresh the next year.

Georgia says …

My mom always made us baked stuffed shrimp on Chrismas evev for the 2 of us. She passed in 2008, but I make it to celebrate her spirit on Christmas Eve ever since.

Lauren says …

My favorite tradition is Italian. I love the Christmas Eve Night of the 7 Fish, and Christmas Day, nice manicotti or lasagna with meatballs, yum!

Charlotte says …

My sister always has a small family get together on Christmas Eve. We all live a distance from each other, so it is really nice to look forward to getting together and bringing a dish. Mine is sweet and sour meatballs.

Lori Miroth says …

cooking in general

melissa marriott says …

Our favorite holiday tradition is making Christmas cookies while we listened to Christmas music like Bing Crosby and Charlie Brown:)

Will says …

We have dinner at home with all the family. It's more of a pot luck meal where everyone brings their favorite dishes. I make my 9 layer dip to start, my grandma's recipe for meatloaf and my famous cheesecake for dessert. Yum.

Nick says …

My mother is French so we celebrate Le Réveillon. On Christmas Eve, we have a traditional french roast goose dinner and stay up until midnight.

Laura says …

I make all the handed down recipes from my grandparents. My Gran Gran's hot chocolate recipe, my Mimi's cornbread dressing, my Mamaw's Christmas cookies and my Goggie's mandarin orange fruit salad. It makes me feel like they are still here with us celebrating our Savior's birth.

Laurie says …

Definately making and enjoying my dad's stollen recipe. He puts extra almond paste in it for me :)

GG Baird says …

My favorite holiday food memory is my Grandfather making smelt on Christmas Eve!!! The whole house would stink like fish, but it is so good!!!! I carry on the tradition still!

Miller Murphy says …

I've only been a mommy for a year now, but a tradition we've decided to start last year for our son's first Christmas is to get him a special ornament each year. Since we're Irish, the ornament last year was an Irish flag with a shamrock and the saying Erin Go Bragh. This year with was Snoopy Santa with his little Woodstock elves.

Heather Jaynes says …

Tofurky and other vegan deliciousness.

amy says …

as long i can think xmiss eve my family and i opened our gifts and and went to 12am mass every year for 14 yrs. and im now 21 and i know my family is going though ALOT of money promblems this year so this year we are not buying gifts we are making them. this year i made everyones fav cookies. and because i live in wisconsin our house and tree are green and yellow this year. and this is my 1st year without my nana which will be hard but thats life. will thats my story. and sorry about my sleeping.

Louise says …

One of the favorite food traditions in our house is the sweets bake off by my daughters. It's simply delicious.

Katy Martin says …

Every Christmas morning the women in my family get up before everyone else and bake cinnamon rolls to eat while opening presents. After being diagnosed with celiac disease, making cinnamon rolls became more difficult, but thankfully with all the great GF options available now, we are able to continue our tradition once again.

Teresa Black says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is baking sugar cookies with my husband's family. We get together at his cousin's house and the kids do all of the work, with a little help from their grandmas. Rolling out the dough, cutting the shapes, frosting and decorating. Depending on the weather, the kids go out and sled and the grown ups stay in and watch football and sip wine.

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