A Brief History of Christmas Foods and Traditions

TLDR Christmas foods and traditions have evolved over time, with dishes like goose and peacock being replaced by turkey, and mince pie and fruit cake becoming popular. Spices, dried fruits, and alcohol were commonly used in Christmas cooking, and dishes like ludefisk, beetroot soup, and gingerbread have regional variations and long histories.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Christmas foods vary greatly in different places and throughout history, with some traditional dishes, like goose, no longer being commonly eaten today.
02:07 Geese were commonly eaten for Christmas in the past because they were fattest at that time and cheaper than chicken, but today turkeys have largely replaced them; peacocks were also served for show but not considered good to eat, while boar's head was a delicacy; regular people would have had mince pie, which was often large enough to serve one or two dozen people and sometimes flavored with spices brought back from the crusades.
03:57 Spices and dried fruits were commonly used in Christmas cooking due to their expense and the lack of fresh fruit during the winter; sugar plums were a type of hard candy with nuts or dried fruit at the center, fruit cakes were rich and heavy with dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and soaked in alcohol; Glühwein and muldwein were popular Christmas beverages in Europe; ludefisk was a traditional Christmas dish in Nordic countries made from dried whitefish.
05:49 Ludefisk is a traditional Christmas dish that has made a comeback, especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is either loved or hated; in Poland, the Christmas Eve meal includes fish and dishes like beetroot soup and pierogis, while pickled herring is popular in Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia; candy canes have a long history and were originally all white before stripes and flavors were added in the 20th century; gingerbread is another sweet Christmas tradition.
07:35 Gingerbread has been around for over a thousand years and was originally a spiced bread, but it has evolved into various forms and is still popular all over Europe; the tradition of the eulog cake, which originated in 19th century France, has also spread to other countries.
09:27 Eggnog is a drink made with milk, eggs, sugar, and cream, usually spiked with alcohol, and its origins are disputed, but it likely evolved from an English drink called poset and became popular in America.
11:24 Eggnog has regional and national variants around the world, and the eggnog riot of 1826 at the United States Military Academy weakened the officer corps of the U.S. Army.
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