A History of Holiday Treats
With Christmas just around the corner, it's time to get ready for our favorite holiday treats. Although they are loved by many, few people know how these items became associated with the holiday. Let's take a look at the origin of some of the most famous Christmas treats.
Eggnog was originally a drink for the wealthy in England. In the winter, they drank warm milk with egg, seasoned with expensive spices and liquors. This custom traveled with colonists to America in the 18th century, where there were plenty of dairy products and cheap rum. The drink was served in small wooden cups called noggins. This popular drink came to be called eggnog, which is the name we know it by today.
Fruitcake was first made by the ancient Romans, who mixed nuts, seeds, and raisins together with flour and shaped the mixture into a round cake. In time, honey and spices were added to the recipe. Later, alcohol was used to add flavor and avoid spoilage. These ingredients cost a pretty penny, which might be why fruitcakes were usually saved for special occasions like Christmas.
The candy cane is said to have been invented by a German choirmaster in 1670. He was worried that the children in his choir would not be able to sit through the long Christmas service. So, he gave them sticks of candy to eat to keep them quiet. According to the story, he made the candy shaped like a shepherd's cane as a reminder of the shepherds who first visited baby Jesus.
Gingerbread has a long history in Europe, but it became most popular in the 17th century. During this time, only professional gingerbread bakers were allowed to bake it all year long. Ordinary folk could make their own gingerbread only on Easter and Christmas. As a result, gingerbread was more commonly found on these days, in time becoming associated with the holiday season.
Just like caroling and exchanging gifts, these treats have become an important part of Christmas. For many people, Christmas just wouldn't be the same without them. Now, the next time you enjoy one of these holiday treats with friends and family, you can share not only the treats themselves but also the stories behind them.
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