Next Monday is Christmas Day! I can hardly believe it because it seems like the past few weeks have flown by. In my most recent blog posts I’ve given you tips on Christmas shopping especially for the aspiring baker and sweet-toothed person in your life, Christmas cake tips and FAQs and also pointed you in the direction of my very own trio of treats, pictured below:
In today’s blog post I want to pick up from something I touched on in my Christmas cake blog post – Christmas cakes from around the world. I mentioned that in Poland people celebrate with Makowiec and in Germany it is Black Forest Gateaux, but I wanted to find out more about Christmas cake and sweet traditions and share these with you.
It would be wonderful if everyone reading this has their feet up, having organised and prepared the festivities with military precision and have even factored in time to relax. In reality, unless you are superwoman/man, you are most likely squeezing in a mug of something hot with 10-minutes to sit down and catch your breath before present wrapping/ food preparation/ kids need sorting out. Whatever you are doing, I hope this gives you some inspiration and an interesting read.
As we know, traditionally in England, Christmas cake is served throughout the season and it is often a fruitcake. When researching this blog post I was amazed at the variety of traditions in other countries.
In France the main Christmas meal is served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and this meal is called Le Réveillon de Noël. It’s much like our Christmas dinner but what interested me is the absence of a fruitcake. Traditionally they have a Yule Log to enjoy but that is not particularly unusual in itself. I often partake in chocolate Yule Log during the festive season too, but what I found amazing was that in some parts of France, the meal is followed by, not only Yule Log, but twelve other desserts. This is to represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles, and everyone around the table is meant to try a little of each. You may love cake and sweet things, but do you love it enough to get involved in that tradition?
Christmas Eve is when the main celebration and feasting happens in Sweden too. A ‘julbord’ – a buffet is enjoyed and is eaten at lunchtime. Again, nothing resembling an English Christmas cake is served, instead pastries and Pepparkakor biscuits are often the sweet of choice. If you have ever tried them, you will know Pepparkakor biscuits are delicious and for those of you that haven’t, they taste similar to a ginger snap but with more seasonal spices, like cloves and cinnamon too. A really Christmassy treat!
Another Christmas sweet tradition that the sugar fans amongst us will like is from Iceland. On Christmas Eve books are exchanged as gifts and then the rest of the night is spent reading the books and eating lots of chocolate.
Panettone is a favourite here in the U.K. but it is said to be the Christmas cake of choice in Italy. It is essentially a big loaf of sweet, fruity Milanese bread, often sold in gorgeous packaging with ribbons and adornments. Apparently, very few Italians choose to make Panettone themselves and prefer the shop-bought variety.
Whether you are eating Pepparkakor biscuits, Yule Log, fruitcake or no cake, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and very happy New Year. Thank you for reading and for your support and encouragement this year.