In the winter, important holidays include everything from Christmas and Hanukkah, to Indian festivals and New Year’s celebrations. The foods eaten during these celebrations are as diverse as the cultures represented by Prep families.
For Christmas, family and friends are key ingredients. All of the other ingredients are up to the chefs preparing the meals!
“Normally, my family celebrates with a large chicken and some dinner rolls and sometimes we make mango mousse for dessert,” Namita Thomas ’16 said.
“I, along with my sister, love to bake Christmas cookies! It’s tons of fun plus we’ve been doing it since we were little… It’s still a fun tradition.”
“Because I’m Korean, I usually eat a mix of American food and Korean food [on Christmas]. There would be turkey and mashed potatoes, but also Korean-style barbecue,” Rebecca Kim ’16 said.
“I usually go to a family friend’s house for a small Christmas Eve dinner… We go with [them] to a Malaysian restaurant,” Pooja Casula ’16 said.
“When it comes to most family events, I love to help out in the kitchen. I help out with the main dishes and enjoy making the desserts,” Zarina Mehta ’17 said.
“One of my favorites is apple crumble. My cousin and I love to make this together and look forward to doing this every year.”
In Brazil, the foods eaten on Christmas include bacalhau, a special fish, and panettone, an enormous Italian chocolate chip muffin-cake. One can buy panettone in the United States as well.
“This cake is seasonal and it’s bought during Christmas in superstores. You could make it, but most people buy it and give it to other people, or they just buy it for themselves and eat it,” Felipe Peres ’16 said.
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated in November or December. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional food during this holiday.
“During Hanukkah, the food that I eat is usually stuff my grandmother makes when I visit her in Canada. She makes a killer Matzo ball soup, meatballs, and brisket,” Tyler Cohen ’18 said.
“We share the fun when we make latkes together.”
A traditional game played over the eight nights of Hanukkah is Dreidel, in which one can win lots of Gelt, which are chocolate coins.
“They’re so small, you don’t feel guilty for eating them until you’re on your tenth and your stomach starts to hate you,” Rachel Piltser ’15 said.
In Southern India, Hindus celebrate Sankranti, the celebration of the harvest, which takes place in January.
“Sankranti isn’t a fixed date, we just celebrate it,” Deepika Chaluvadi ’15 said.
“That’s the time of year when the rice is harvested.”
Rice and sugarcane are the main ingredients for making traditional delicacies such as jaggery and chura.
One of the most popular holidays in Iran is Shabe Yalda, which means “Night of birth”. It is celebrated on the longest night of the year. Family and friends eat, drink, and share poetry during the holiday.
“People usually eat fruits and nuts, especially pomegranates and watermelons,” Mohammad Keshtkar ’15 said.
“The special belief about pomegranates and watermelons is that the red color of these fruits represents the crimson shades of dawn and the glow and radiance of life.”
New Year’s celebrations vary in different countries, but they are usually huge festivals which include lots of cultural foods.
“We celebrate Vietnamese New Year, Tết, which is usually in January, sometimes (rarely) the beginning of February,” Haely Le ’16 said.
The most common foods eaten during Tết include different sweet and savory cakes, or bánhs, made from glutinous rice steamed in banana leaves.
“They take a while to make and [are] a lot of hard work,” Le said.
“They usually take at least six hours just [to steam].”
Chinese New Year takes place in January or February as well, and food is the biggest part of the New Year’s Eve.
“Families will prepare at least 20 entrees for this big family meal consisting of pastries and lots of meat. Something that every family will eat is dumplings. They are shaped like ancient Chinese gold ingot, which implies money,” Jacky Zou ’16 said.
“Also, fish is something every family will eat because fish implies wealth and rank.”
“My favorite parts of the Chinese New Year are decorating the house and helping my parents to prepare for the big meal,” Zou said.
Landon Kestlinger ’15 put it best when he said, “I like all food during the holidays. I love trying different foods and I don’t shy away from anything.”