By Joan Koczor

Joan Koczor

Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world by more than 400 million diverse people in many different ways.

Americans have their own unique Christmas feasts.

  • New England has lumberjack pie (mashed potato crust, meats and cinnamon).
  • Pennsylvania Dutch serve sand tarts (thin, crisp sugar cookies).
  • North Carolina features Moravian love-feast buns (sweet bread of flour and mashed potatoes).
  • Baltimore serves sauerkraut with the turkey.
  • Virginia gives us oyster and ham pie.
  • Southern states have hominy grits soufflé and whiskey cake (with one cup of 100-proof whiskey).
  • Louisiana’s treat is Creole gumbo with ham, veal, chicken, shrimp, oysters and crabmeat.
  • New Mexico has empanaditas (little beef pies with applesauce, pine nuts and raisins).
  • Hawaii serves turkey teriyaki marinated and cooked over an outdoor pit. has the recipes for many of these dishes

A few of the more popular Christmas traditions uniquely American are:

Movies. Americans tend to watch nostalgic movies and holiday-themed programs like It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Miracle on 34th Street. Getting the family together to watch these programs provides a chance to de-stress and get in the holiday mood.

The Christmas tree is usually one of the first signs that the holiday season has arrived. Whether natural or artificial, they are decorated with lights, tinsel, garland and ornaments.

Candy canes date as far back as 1670 in Cologne, Germany, where the cathedral choirmaster wanted to quiet the children during their yearly Living Crèche tradition on Christmas Eve. He asked a local candy maker to create what he called sweet sticks for the children. He requested they should have a crook at the top of each stick as a reminder of the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus. He further stated the color white be used to teach the children about Christianity and remind them of Jesus’ sinless life.

The candy cane’s peppermint recipe was first published in 1844. The earliest patent for a candy cane machine was filed by the Bunte Brothers of Chicago in 1920.

Gift giving goes back to the original Christmas when the Magi brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh to the Christ child for his security and in good will.

Christmas cards are the top-selling holiday card of the year. This tradition began about 1822 in America prompting the Superintendent of Mails to state he would hire an additional 16 mailmen to handle the delivery of the handmade greeting cards.

Treasure the memories you and your family make this holiday season and will remember long after the gifts are opened.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


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