Editor’s Note: This story was part Universe Live’s December magazine show for The Daily Universe Magazine.
Sugar plum fairies dance in people’s heads with all of their holiday favorites, but holiday recipes aren’t just about the sugar-induced coma that follows.
Eggnog, cookies, pies, ham and other foods ring in the holiday spirit. These holiday treats might not have magic power, but the memories associated with the food brings a special holiday spirit.
Many times, the enjoyment from the preparation of the food helps bring family members together to begin with.
The foods people get excited for at the holidays are often also traditions. In many cases, the tradition reminds and connects them to their heritage through a family recipe.
BYU student Kristen Bertoldo said every time she sees her grandma, they make their pizza limone ricotta recipe, which is similar to an Italian cheesecake. For her, this recipe helps connect her to her grandmother and great-grandmother.
Bertoldo said her great-grandmother immigrated to the US with her parents from Italy when she was 13-years-old.
“I love getting to connect with my heritage. In a small way, it allows me to feel close to them. I really didn’t know my nuni… so I think it’s really special to get to make something that her mom taught her how to make and it just kinda makes me feel close to her,” she said.
Megan Pratt’s family has their own poppy seed bread recipe and all the women in her family get together for a baking day on Christmas Eve.
For Pratt, her Christmas Eve dinner tradition is her favorite part of the holidays and it wouldn’t be as fun without the food. Pratt’s family spends days preparing family favorite treats for a fancy and fun charcuterie board they make and eat around the Christmas tree.
BYU student Alyssa Weyland said her mom is flying out to make a special cookie recipe with her. Weyland’s family has carried on their family cookie recipe for an impressive amount of time.
“Our ancestor who came over with her three little daughters from Germany” is the one who brought this special German recipe and carried on the tradition even in a new country, Weyland said. The cookies are called springerle and the recipe is from her ancestors in Germany from the 19th century.
For these students, the recipe isn’t so much what’s important as are the memories of it being shared with family and friends.