Christmas Traditions - Fruitcake and Christmas Stockings
I have been researching all kinds of Christmas traditions this year so that I can explain to my children where Christmas trees, wreaths, christmas stockings, fruitcake and many other traditions come from. We have four children and they are always full of questions about everything. My four year old asked me why we put up Christmas trees a few weeks ago which prompted me to write a hub on where the Christmas tree tradition came from. It has been fun explaining all of these things to my children as we progress through the season. Makes for good family time and I think it gives all of the things we do a lot more meaning for them.
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Not The Fruitcake!
As I continue my research on Christmas traditions I was not sure if I would publish anything on the dreaded fruitcake. No I am not talking about that crazy relative or friend. I am talking about that cake that shows up every year around Christmas. I hesitated because it is definitely not a tradition in my household. However, it was often seen in my house as a child and in my grandmother's house. I never liked fruitcake and have not found a recipe to this day that I like. I cannot explain why since I like fruit, nuts, and cake. There has got to be some combination of these ingredients that will appeal to me. If you think you have that magic recipe that will change my mind, please publish a hub on it and I will let you know if you change my mind. I will actually make the cake and try it along with my family while explaining the tradition to them. It will be fun so bring on the fruitcake recipes.
Even though our family does not have fruitcake during Christmas, it is a very popular tradition in many people's homes. There are many different stories on where it originally came from but most of what I have read tells of fruitcake dating back to Roman times. Most recipes during this time were fairly simple and included basically nuts, raisins, and seeds. As time went on things like honey, spices, and fruit were added. Hunters, warriors, and crusaders carried this type of cake with them on long trips to have food to eat over long periods of time. This cake would last for long periods of time, especially if it contained alcohol. In the Americas during the 16th century, fruitcake became very popular with the abundance of sugar. This allowed people to preserve fruit in the sugar and the result was candied fruit. Different countries have different recipes for fruitcake. Typical American recipes include fruit and nuts with some including rum. The fruitcakes that include alcohol will last for years. Some people believe that fruitcakes get better with age. Most of the fruitcakes I know get fruitier with age!
The term “nutty as a fruitcake” goes back to 1935. It means that a person is crazy or strange. I know a few of these people myself!
I am looking forward to any good fruitcake recipes! I would like to change my mind on this very popular Christmas tradition.
Christmas stockings have a couple different stories on where they originated from. The story I had always heard was the Dutch theory. This will also be the story I tell my children this year. During the 16th century, Dutch children would fill their clogs with straw for Santa's reindeer. They also would leave a small treat in there for Santa. Santa would in turn leave the children treats in their clogs. Over time leaving out the clogs changed into hanging stockings and treats for Santa became the milk and cookies that most children leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
There is another theory called the Nobleman's theory. A very kind nobleman had lost his wife and had dwindled his money away over the years while he supported his daughters and kept up the farm. He had three daughters of the marrying age and did not have the money for their dowry. Santa knew this and also knew that this kind man would not accept money. On Christmas Eve Santa was visiting their home and noticed that the daughters had their stockings hung up to dry after a day of washing clothes. Santa put gold in each of their stockings as their dowry. They woke up the next morning, found the gold and were very happy to know that now they could get married.
As a child my mother would fill our stockings with apples, oranges, candy canes and nuts. Today children get all kinds of small gifts or stocking stuffers in their stockings. Christmas stockings come in all colors and sizes. They are hung anywhere in the house from the fireplace to the bedpost. The colors and designs are many. No matter what your stocking looks like, it is an essential part to Christmas decorating and fun. We even have stockings for our two dogs. They get dog treats and toys for Christmas too!
Hang them with care and await the big day when they are filled with all kinds of joy.
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