A new trend in the world of the Internet is Throwback Thursday. This has me reminiscing about Christmases of yore*. More specifically, Wisconsin Christmases of yore. I’ve noticed Wisconsinites seem to carry around a healthy dose of nostalgia, heck, our state’s favorite cocktail is the Old Fashioned, it doesn’t get more old school than that! If you’re looking to bring a little Christmas past to your Christmas presents, here are a few old fashioned Christmas foods and the story behind them in honor of Throwback Thursday.
* “Of yore” is how they said “a long time ago” a long time ago.
The tradition of fruit cake came about in medieval times when cooks would save up their best spices and dried fruit and bake a special cake on Christmas day. Many cultures have their own version of a Christmas cake that is tied to the symbolism of Christmas. The Germans for example make a fruit cake called a stollen, it’s formed in to a folded over round shape and dusted with powdered sugar to resemble the baby Jesus swaddled in a cloth. A bakery here in Wisconsin, the New Glarus bakery, carries on the tradition with a fabulous stollen that puts other fruit cakes to shame.
Eggnog doesn’t date back as far as fruit cake, but it counts as a throwback since it became popular in the 1760s. The standard recipe for eggnog contains milk, eggs, rum and sugar and can be served hot or cold. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, an eggnog like drink called the Tom and Jerry is a popular choice. This hot tasty treat contains eggs, sugar, and brandy, plus a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Tom and Jerry Mix is available in the freezer section at many Wisconsin grocery stores and online at Wisconsinmade.com for those of you who can’t get it locally.
Gingerbread can be traced back to the Grimm’s fairytale Hannsel and Grettel, when the two curious kids get lurred into a witch’s elaborate gingerbread house, but historians aren’t sure which came first- the story or the house. The gingerbread man however, is credited to Queen Elizabeth the 1st, who supposively had her cooks create gingerbread likenesses of her guests. American kids have loved gingerbread since the USA’s infancy, so baking gingerbread cookies is a great way to celebrate the same way early Americans did.
What throwback Christmas traditions will you be celebrating this year?