Did You Know?~Stories behind Christmas Foods

The charming stories behind your favorite Christmas foods (msn.com)

Slide 2 of 23: It's believed that panettone in some form has been baked since the 1200s but there are many stories around how it rose to popularity. One such legend is that during a Christmas banquet held by the Duke of Milan in the 1400s, the dessert was burnt. Luckily, a young cook called Toni came to the rescue and created a rich brioche bread filled with raisins and candied fruit. The Duke loved it and it quickly became a beloved national festive bake.

Slide 3 of 23: According to folklore, the iconic peppermint-flavored boiled sweet dates back to 1670, when a German choirmaster asked a local confectioner to make them to keep his young singers quiet during services. It's likely that the candy made its way to America with European immigrants. It's here where the sweet gained its red stripes, added by a candy maker in Albany, Georgia, around 1920.

Slide 4 of 23: Mince pies did used to contain meat, often mutton or beef, which was mixed with dried fruits, spices and suet. The pies were still mostly the reserve of the wealthy, served on special occasions because ingredients like spices were expensive. Towards the end of the 1800s, pies without meat became more popular as sugar became more available and the version we know and love today came into existence. Get our best recipe for mince pies here

Slide 5 of 23: When fresh citrus fruit was not readily available, an orange at Christmas was considered a luxury. The tradition of placing an orange in Christmas stockings also references an old Christmas tale in which St Nicholas gave three gold balls to a father who couldn't afford his daughters' dowries. The balls were tossed down the chimney and fell into stockings hanging by the fire.
Slide 6 of 23: Eggnog, a classic creamy drink that many enjoy around Christmas, has its roots in 13th-century Europe when medieval monks in Britain drank posset – a warm, milky ale punch made with figs and eggs. Fast forward several centuries and the drink was spiked with sherry, Madeira or brandy and popular with the upper classes. When it crossed to the US during the 18th century, rum, which was plentiful, was used – before refrigeration, the booze also prevented the drink from spoiling. Get our recipe for eggnog recipe here
Slide 7 of 23: Turkey arrived in England in the 1500s and Henry VIII was purportedly the first monarch to serve the bird as part of the Christmas feast. Over the decades, it gained popularity around the festive season but it wasn't actually until around the 1950s that turkey was cemented as a Christmas Day centerpiece in the UK and America. Better affordability and the advent of refrigeration contributed to making it a holiday staple. Discover what the royals throughout history ate at Christmas
Slide 8 of 23: Also known as a yule ham, this sumptuous roast supposedly originated from ancient Norse pagans paying tribute to the god Freyr – the god of fertility, harvest and boars. When pagans converted to Christianity, ham become linked with St Stephen's feast day which falls on 26 December. Get the recipe for orange-glazed ham here
Slide 9 of 23: Goose has been eaten around the end of the calendar year for thousands of years: in ancient Greek rituals to ensure a good crop the following spring; during Michaelmas, a winter solstice feast in the Middle Ages; and at British Tudor banquets. And of course it was the centerpiece bird for the Cratchit family in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Goose is also extremely seasonal as it naturally reaches full maturity towards the end of the year. Get our recipe for goose with pecan stuffing here
Slide 10 of 23: This sweet treat goes all the way back to the Middle Ages when spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper become more available in the West. By the 16th century, cookies had become popular across Europe and it's thought that they made their way to America via Dutch immigrants in the early 17th century. Nowadays, they're a staple sugary snack all year-round and especially at Christmas.

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