Family Food Traditions: The Holiday Edition
That's one of the beautiful things about the holidays or any sort of celebration. Depending on your family background, where you are from, what faith you may believe, the traditions of how you celebrate are endless. Although, the one common thread that seems to tie us all together...food.
In the American culture, Thanksgiving is a prime example of a traditional food-centered holiday. This holiday began when the Pilgrims and Native Americans united together to share a meal. Both groups came from very different backgrounds, but despite their cultural differences, they were able to come together and be grateful for the company and variety of foods they had around them.
In my family, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are three major food-centered holidays that we celebrate. Many of the traditions that my family continues today are due to my mom's side of the family or more specifically, Grandma Adeline. Grandma's side of the family is 100% full-blooded Polish. So, best be assured there are definitely some Eastern European inspired foods and traditions at our holiday gatherings.
One of my favorite parts about these holidays is in the actual events that occur in preparing the foods that we serve. Around Eastertime in many Polish Catholic families, it is tradition to gather all of the food that will be eaten on Easter morning and place it in a basket to be blessed during mass on Holy Saturday. When there are Easter baskets to be blessed, then a trip to the Polish grocery store is on the do list.
When I was younger, I remember always going with my mom and Grandma to the Polish grocery store. The only time we would ever really go was during the Easter season because that was the only place where we could get truly authentic Polish food. I remember the store always being packed full of people; many of them running around, grabbing ingredients off the shelves, or waiting in long lines to pick up any and every food they pre-ordered weeks before. If there's one thing I learned while tagging along on these shopping adventures, is to always come prepared with what you need ahead of time. And never get in the way of a Polish woman and her mission to find the perfect kolaczki.
Polish kolaczki is definitely a traditional food that we serve at many of our family gatherings. It is a flaky, cookie-like pastry filled with fruit, cheese, nuts, or even poppy seed spreads. In my family, the fruit-filled ones are definitely the most popular, so you best be ready to grab one as soon as the desserts are out or you might be left with the not-so-popular, poppy seed.
There are many other food traditions that my family does throughout the holidays. My Grandma's traditional stuffing and cranberry sauce recipes for Thanksgiving have been passed down on her side of the family for many years. There has not been a Thanksgiving without them. During Christmastime when I was younger, cookie decorating was an all-day family ordeal with my Grandma, aunts, and cousins meeting up to make the perfect holiday treats. All of these food moments make for some great family memories.
Food truly is an essential part of the holiday season. It not only is the bond that brings families together, but it creates memories and traditions that will be carried on and passed down for generations. I will forever be grateful for the many Polish food traditions that my Grandma has instilled upon my family. Rest assured we will carry them on in her legacy but until the next holiday, przechowywać jedzenie dobre! (Keep Eating Good)