Traditional Festive Foods Around the World
Every culture has its unique holidays that are often based on certain historical events or religious traditions. Each of these feasts has its features, including the foods that are consumed during them. Let’s find out why people eat peculiar meals on certain holidays.
One of the traditional meals that are served and given as presents at Christmas is fruitcakes. The origin of this tradition dates back to ancient times, when the cost of the main ingredients of this dish – nuts and dried fruits – was very high. Therefore, fruitcakes were a sign of prosperity and wealth. They were baked for special occasions. As celebrating Christmas became such an occasion, fruitcakes turned an inseparable part of this feast.
We can’t imagine the Thanksgiving table without a stuffed turkey and pies. This is rather strange, because turkeys weren’t the main food during the first years of the celebrations. It’s believed that the first settlers and Indians ate deer, oysters, and corn, which were more peculiar to the Native Americans. Turkeys became specialties for the festive table because of their size, which made it possible to fill full all the guests present at the holiday.
The food that is associated with Easter is eggs. From ancient times, eggs have been linked with the birth of life. Historians, however, connect their popularity as Easter food to the fact that eating them was prohibited during Lent. Instead of eating, people began to paint them, which is also a tradition now.
This is a Jewish holiday in memory of two great events in the history of this nation: the Maccabees’ victory and the redemption of temple of Jerusalem. The traditional food is latkes, potato pancakes that are cooked in oil. Oil reminds of the miracle that happened on those days: a small oil lamp kept burning for eight days.
This holiday is celebrated by Muslims at the end of Ramadan fast. In the morning of this day, people eat dates and small pastries. This tradition is connected to the belief that Mohammad ate these foods at the end of his fasts. Another traditionally served dish is birganis, a symbol of prosperity. This is made from rice as well as different sorts of meat and is richly flavored with sweet dried fruits.
This Hindu festival marks the end of the eternal struggle between the good and the evil. Being the symbol of the victory of kindness and light, Diwali is a happy and joyful celebration. The traditional food is sweets made with milk in various sizes and forms .
Chinese New Year
In China, this cheerful holiday of good fortune and luck is also called Spring Festival. People eat foods with symbolic meanings: noodles as a symbol of longevity, special rolls as a symbol of wealth, and lettuce, because this word in Chinese is pronounced similarly to “making a fortune”.
Persian New Year symbolizes the beginning of new life and fecundity. The festive table is laid with seven meals, whose names start with “s” in Persian. These dishes are made from rice, fish, apples, and vinegar. They are richly flavored with green herbs, denoting the birth of new life.
The symbol of this Jewish holiday is matzo, salt-free and fat-free bread. This is eaten to commemorate a tragic event in the Jewish history – Exodus – when, after having been freed by Pharaoh, people left Egypt with this “bread of humility”, as they call this food.
Kwanzaa is marked in order to pay tribute to the culture of Afro-Americans. The festive foods have roots in the traditions of African continent. Such dishes as, for instance, peanut soup and stew are popular. Peanuts have a certain link to Africa, being also named “goober”, which is a Bantu word.