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The Stories Behind Popular Holiday Foods

’Tis the season already! Every year around this time you must want to stay at the your cozy home and eat some great food to warm your stomach and heart! But do you know the history behind those traditional Christmas foods?

Candy Cane, the most well-known Christmas candy, is children’s favorite for Christmas! Who does not fall for the peppermint-flavored, cane-shaped candy covered by the red and white stripes? However, Candy Cane was just plain white and was not flavored with peppermint 250 years ago. It all started with the noisy children. During the Christmas season in 1670, there was a German choirmaster worried that children couldn’t sit quietly for the long Christmas nativity service, so he decided to give them something to eat to keep them quiet. Of course, they couldn’t talk if they had candy in their mouths! The Choirmaster made the candy into the “J” shape to remind them of the shepherd who visited baby Jesus at the first Christmas; some people also said “J” stands for Jesus. However, we are not sure about the accuracy of the story, because the story of the Candy Cane was not told until 200 years later!

As the Christmas Dinner entrée for lots of families today, the turkey was introduced to us nearly 500 years ago. Turkey was brought to England from the New World. It was commonly said that Henry VIII was the first king of England to have turkey for Christmas dinner. Before that, people usually had a boar, goose, or capon. Turkey was widely spread in the 17th century in England. Nowadays, people all around the world have turkey for Christmas.

Last but not least, sweet potato pie also appears as an important part on the Christmas dinner table. This dessert was first made in the south part of America because sweet potatoes only grow at a cool but not freezing tempertrue in the South. The recipe for the sweet potatoes pie today was developed by Abby Fisher, an African American slave. He and his friends invented it together because they thought the taste of sweet potato pie is similar to the food yam they ate in their hometown. People eat sweet potatoes pie during the Christmas season because it refers to the family reunion, just like whenever Fisher ate his pie, he would think about going back to his hometown.

The traditional Christmas foods we eat all have long and interesting stories behind them. We eat them not only for their delicious taste but also the meanings behind them.

Photo credits: Candy cane: Wikipedia; Turkey: Food Network; Pie: Pillsbury