Mince Pies—England’s Medieval Advent Treat

We were watching the Rick Steves Christmas special (again) last week with the 12 days of Christmas on the brain. So when Rick mentioned that an English family was baking mince pies so they could eat one for each of the 12 days, we took notice. 

On the Sixth Day of Imported Christmas, we baked tiny mince pies. We were too excited to make them from scratch, so we cheated, using canned mince and frozen pie dough. We also only managed to get nine pies out of the ingredients, so we’ll have to make more to finish out our 12 days. 

Continue reading

Advent Wreath—Germany’s Candlelit Countdown

Advent countdowns come in all shapes and sizes, from paper chains and wall hangings to boxes of chocolate or 12 pairs of socks. Every year, we visit World Market to see what exciting Advent calendars they have in stock, buy far too many of them, and spend each of the 12-24 nights before Christmas eating candy, cookies, jams, and marzipan.

This year, Gordon decided to add a less delicious but much more meaningful Advent countdown to the mix. On the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we are celebrating with an Advent wreath.

Continue reading

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.

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

Kentucky for Christmas: Japan’s Festive KFC

Every once in a while, someone has a stroke of marketing genius that influences an entire generation (Ch ch ch chia, Where’s the beef?, Got Milk? etc.) On the Second Day of Imported Christmas, we are celebrating one of the most effective marketing campaigns of all time: the KFC takeover of Christmas in Japan.

In 1974, the fledgling Japanese KFC franchises needed a boost. Takeshi Okawara, the manager of Japan’s first KFC, decided to take advantage of the lack of Japanese traditions for Christmas (which was largely not celebrated at all except by foreigners, who couldn’t get their traditional turkey ). He launched a campaign called “Kentucky for Christmas” and offered a Christmas party barrel that started with chicken and evolved to include sides, cake, and optional KFC wine.

Continue reading

Tió de Nadal: Catalonia’s Pooping Christmas Log

I love Christmas almost as much as I love trying new things. Gordon has a knack for finding the strangest and best things other cultures/the internet have to offer and having the requisite skills to do them. In truly American fashion, we decided to round out our Christmas  with 12 Days of Imported Christmas traditions.

On the First Day of Imported Christmas, we’re going with one  of our favorite traditions found so far. When Gordon saw an article about Caga Tió, the Catalonian poop log, he immediately went out to the garage to make one.

Continue reading