Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Traditions

We all look forward to the time of togetherness, presents, twinkling lights, good food and drink the HOLIDAY SEASON brings. It is fun to enjoy Christmas Windows and the general SPIRIT of the Season just walking or driving around. But what holds special meaning and joy for many is the CELEBRATION of TRADITIONS.


Drinking a post-ski cocktail at the Au Sable Inn the other day, I posed a question to my fellow elbow benders, "Who here keeps a Holiday Tradition Alive?" ...and the very friendly, very Italian gentleman next to me turned to his two sons and their wives and they laughingly piped up in unison..."FESTA DEI SETTE PESCI" !



I asked him if he would be kind enough to explain how this tradition is honored in his family.  Feast of the Seven Fishes, also known as the La Vigilia enjoyed on Christmas Eve. Seven seafood dishes are prepared and eaten while commemorating the vigil for the midnight BIRTH of JESUS.


Some of the yummy seafood dishes have roots in Southern Italy where this tradition is thought to originate. Often impoverished communities would  find local fare easy to come by in the sea. Preparation was simple, often salted. Many of the seafood dishes, therefore, are humbly prepared in remembrance. Baked eel is a most traditional offering as is some style of calamari. But this tradition also is a perfect stage for excellent cooks to turn up the heat and dazzle with scrumptious dishes Italian style.


TRY making a pitcher of bitter CAMAPRI mixed with the juice of freshly squeezed BLOOD ORANGES for a delicious APERITIF.  Perfect pairing with the traditional ANTIPASTI!!!


One Tradition I read about on Alicia Silverstone's  The Kind Life blog is the lighting of the MENORAH. This candle lighting ceremony commemorates the oil lamp that burned for eight days on one day's oil. This tradition is the Jewish FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS and is known as HANUKKAH.  Get into this wonderful mindset - foster preserving energy and energy awareness. HONOR  the light and warmth from the FLAME of ONE  candle.


A Tradition I JUST started I found on the same website. And I invited ten friends to tell ten friends.....and hope you will also. A FREE and EASY way to FEED a HUNGRY CAT AND DOG!! Just go to the Animal Rescue Site and click on the button. That's it. Voila! Corporate advertisers donate about .6 of a cup of food per click......so click away friends and put on your favorites for easy access whenever you want to up your KARMA quotient.

Getting so much pleasure from words and their origins, I am happy to share with you how Santa Clause came by his moniker. In 4th century Italy, Saint Nicholas was a kind and generous man. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated on December 6th but after the Reformation his cache diminished except in Holland. The Dutch pronounced him Sint Nikolaas then shortened to Sinterklaas. American English retooled the Dutch contraction to our well loved Santa Clause. How many families have one Santa designee to don a suit and hand out presents every year?  



CHRISTMAS DAY  traditional MEALS are fun and you can come up with something that has a special meaning for you. Some cultural traditions include serving Latkes, (potato pancakes), Ham, intricate stuffing, Roasted Meats, Lutefisk,(Swedish Fish)...and about as many creative recipes as there are people and cultures.



You might innovate with a VEGAN or VEGETARIAN meal or dish. You are only limited by your IMAGINATION.  But be sure to write down the recipe so you can refer to it year to year.



I LOVE decorating the EVERGREEN TREE. EVERYTHING about it appeals to me. The HEAVENLY SMELL, the gorgeous color and the DECORATIONS.  The TREE provides ample opportunity for creating your family tradition. Get together around the table and make your own ornaments from popcorn and cranberries, colored paper or found objects. I enjoy collecting ornaments from travels. Whenever I take these treasures out of the box and lovingly place on the branches I welcome the season officially. Always best savored with loved ones present.

MUSIC!  Do you HEAR what I HEAR?   LOVE the sound of Children's Choir and a perennial favorite playing in my House is "A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS by VINCE GUARALDI ORCHESTRA. Whatever you do...do not FORGET to SING!  Be it after the FEAST, after, during or before TREE TRIMMING, or after the HAPPY HOUR eggnog.......FA LA LA LA LA and JINGLE those BELLS....SONG is good for the HEART.




Whatever your long standing Holiday Tradition or exciting NEW tradition have FUN, be INCLUSIVE and EMBRACE the SPIRIT of GIVING and the graciousness of RECEIVING.



HOLIDAY TRADITIONS are the BONES upon which hang happy and MEMORABLE times.




HAVE A WARM, SAFE AND VERY MERRY HOLIDAY- WITH LOVE- FROM THE PINK PIG



















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