Chicken Bones—New Brunswick’s Crunchy Christmas Treat

Last weekend, we told my friend’s six children that we were giving them chicken bones for Christmas. They were horrified. Granted, this wasn’t the first time that week we’d given them something weird in the name of international holiday traditions, so they were suspicious.* If you told a group of children in New Brunswick the same thing, I imagine they’d be delighted. So for the Third Day of Imported Christmas, we’re eating Chicken Bones.

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Pavuchky—Ukraine’s 8-Legged Decorators

I learned a lot of rules for life from Ukrainian babushkas: Don’t whistle inside or all of your money will fly out of your pocket. Never throw away bread, no matter how stale or moldy; feed it to animals instead. Hoping to stay healthy during the winter? Eat raw garlic. And never squish a spider in your house, especially around Christmastime.

Not only do spiders get special protection during the holidays, they also get an honored place in Christmas decor. Often, Ukrainians who put up a Christmas tree include small spider ornaments and tinsel to represent spider webs. So on the Second Day of Imported Christmas we made tiny beaded pavuchky (little spiders) for our tree.

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Sfincione—Sicily’s Christmas Pizza

With holiday plans cancelled, travel suspended, and everyone stuck at home with the same people, pets, and dwindling stash of toilet paper every day, we figured there’s never been a better time to import some Christmas cheer. We’re counting down 12 international holiday traditions that you can incorporate this year to make Christmas 2020 memorable for more pleasant reasons than the global pandemic.

I already need very little excuse to eat pizza, so when I heard that Sicilians have an extra savory pizza for Christmas, I knew we had to try it out. On the First Day of Imported Christmas, we made sfincione.

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Sourdough Onion Rings

So you’ve made a sourdough starter, you’re feeding it daily and making delicious bread. What are you supposed to do with the discard you pull out to make room for the feeding? Make onion rings of course!

Using sourdough starter as onion ring batter makes for crispy, fluffy onion rings with a slightly sour flavor (like buttermilk). We really enjoyed them and will definitely be making them again. Continue reading

Julbock: Sweden’s Flammable Christmas Goat

For many Swedish families, it just isn’t Christmas without a straw goat somewhere on or under the tree. For the families in Gävle, it just isn’t Christmas unless you have to stop arsonists from burning your town’s giant straw goat to the ground. And for their neighbors, there is nothing more Christmasy than a goat bonfire. On the Sixth Day of Imported Christmas, we made a Julbock (Yule goat) of our own. Continue reading

Wassailing: England’s Apple Tree Pep Talk

For most of my life, wassailing was just something that popped up in Christmas song lyrics, like “Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too” or “Here we come a-wassailing.” But as long as we’re talking unusual Christmas traditions, we thought that on the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we’d share the joy of wassailing in its ancient form. Continue reading