Many of you probably associate ham with Christmas or – for some of us, it’s the other way around – Christmas dinner with roasted ham. Both ham and turkey are favorite holiday dishes in my family; that’s what many of us look forward to each year during the yuletide season. But why is that? Where did the tradition of the Christmas ham originate?
Origin of the Christmas Ham
From what I have learned, the Christmas ham, otherwise known as the Yule Ham, is often associated with modern Christmas, Yule, and Scandinavian Jul. This tradition is suggested to have begun among the Germans as a tribute to Freyr, the god of Germanic Paganism who is associated with boars, harvest, and fertility. And Saint Stephen’s feast day is December 26, which plays a part in the Yuletide celebrations previously associated with Freyr. In Swedish art from the past, Stephen is portrayed tending to horses and bringing a boar’s head to a Yuletide feast.
Origin of Christmas Pudding
Traditionally served on Christmas day, Christmas pudding has origins in England and is still popular throughout Britain. Also referred to as plum pudding, this tradition began during the Middle Ages, and it was the most special part of the meal. Its absence during Christmas dinner would raise a few eyebrows in those times. Today, some families even add a coin to the mixture before it is served; everyone makes a wish, and the person who gets the coin will receive wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true.
Origin of Eggnog at Christmastime
Eggnog is a frothy, sweetened dairy based beverage, which is made with milk, cream, sugar, beaten eggs, and ground cinnamon and nutmeg. It is believed that eggnog’s origins lie in Europe, and that it was was eventually brought to the “New World”. It is still a popular drink in North America and is typically associated with Christmas and New Year’s. There are various twists to this holiday favorite, including the addition of alcohol.
The Christmas ham, pudding, and eggnog are just three traditional holiday foods your family might enjoy at the dinner table. There are numerous others, from cranberry sauce to gingerbread men and candy canes to gumdrops. The ham and mashed potatoes are just two of my favorites. What traditional (or nontraditional) foods might you eat during your Christmas feast this year?
Traditional Christmas Food
Origins of Eggnog
Traditions & History