Mexico | Venezuela | Peru | Canada
On our journey moving around the world during the holidays, we will not focus on home just yet! In search for different traditions and holiday recipes, we found some beautiful stories all over. So in our second part of this series, find our top picks for holiday recipes in Latin and North America.
The weather is warm in Mexico during the Christmas season. Due to the warm weather, they decorate their homes with lilies and evergreens. Family members cut intricate designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns called farolitos. The lantern will hold a candle inside and glow the designs. Farolitos are seen on sidewalks, windowsills, and rooftops. They also put them on outdoor walls to illuminate the community with the spirit of Christmas.
During the holidays in Mexico, when it is time to prepare the traditional dishes, you gather all of your aunts, your cousins, your neighbors and any kids who want to help. Tamales traditionally are made all winter and especially for Las Posadas, a weeklong festival leading up to Christmas. The whole family helps to prepare the tamales and is now known as “tamalada.” Tamales are portable corn-husk rolls filled with masa which is a flour made of corn soaked in lime juice and water. A variety of ingredients are used and passed down from the treasured family matriarch so the recipes vary by family and childhood memories.
In Venezuela, Christmas is celebrated with a number of religious and traditional customs. The religious celebrations begin on December 16th with masses said every morning until December 24th. The religious service is held at midnight (Misa de Gallo). The main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, “Noche Buena” as it is called in Spanish. Families get together to enjoy the traditional holiday meal: “hallacas.
A batch that can last an entire season is made all at once and all family members have their hands in the making process making it a team effort. The hallacas are made with corn dough wrapped inside a plantain leaf. Also added inside is a mixture of raisins, and olives. The leaf wrap is tied shut with string and the hallaca is then cooked in boiling water. The fun part of this recipe is that they vary by region and family and what was passed down each generation.
Hallacas are a Venezuelan tradition that dates back to the time of colonization. With an indigenous name and a number of ingredients that are from Venezuelan aborigines and the European settlers. Hallacas are the perfect symbolization of the mix of culture in Venezuela. The most important part of this recipe is how it brings family and friends together. The first bite even brings back childhood memories of making them with their grandparents and great-grandparents. The flavours are a reminder loved ones that are long gone but that will forever live in this tradition.
While most celebrations are similar to those in Europe and North America, there are some unique traditions that reflect the nation’s identity and history of Peru. Christmas traditions in Peru date back to 1535. In the evening of Christmas, usually after mass, families go home to feast on elaborately prepared dinners and open gifts. At midnight, adults will toast with champagne, while children toast with spiced hot cocoa. Families go outside to watch fireworks displays together as a community.
Spiced hot cocoa is a Christmas tradition that takes over Peru during the holidays. The hot cocoa is similar to the creamy hot cocoa we enjoy here in North America, but it does include spicy chili powder, cinnamon sticks and freshly grated nutmeg for a little kick.
Chocolatada Navideña is one of the main traditions in Peru during the Christmas season. This is when friends and family gather together over a big bowl of Peruvian Hot Cocoa. Chocolatada can take place at home or at school with people volunteering their time to help with preparations. They are also a way for the local community to celebrate the holiday season with one another and raise money for a local charity.
Christmas in Canada can be pretty magical with our winter wonderland in most provinces but did you know we also have a Santa Post Office? Since 1982, Santa’s Post Office has employed mailroom elves from Canada, and he has received more than 20 million letters from children around the world. Canada Post volunteers donate over 200,000 hours of their time each year to help Santa respond to every letter that arrives on his doorstep.
Butter Tart to Canadians is like Tiramisu to Italians or Apple Pie to Americans. They even have the annual festival dedicated to these sweet beauties! Not surprising at all, keeping in mind how delicious the tarts are!
Drinking eggnog that can be mixed with spirits is a tradition Canadians love at holiday parties. According to Statistics Canada, more than 5-million litres of eggnog were sold in Canada in December 2017, so apparently we really love Eggnog here. Eggnog is a sweet, dairy-based drink made with sugar, cream and whipped eggs for a thick, frothy texture. Add bourbon, rum or brandy for a little extra kick, and don’t forget a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon on top to really top it off.
Did you know that you can make your own homemade vegan eggnog?