2# The legend of Candy Cane

Along with candles, wreaths, stars, bells and mistletoes, there is another ubiquitous decorative item for Christmas, one of the favorite for children: the candy cane. In fact, it is so popular that it is one of the most visible items in any decoration, from Christmas tree, to restaurants or the shop windows. They can be hung with colorful ribbons and can be used to decorate almost anything, from an entire room to a cake or a tree. The candy cane is simple, eye-catching, and what’s more, it’s tasty. Though candy…

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6# Samichlaus, the beer from Austria brewed only on Saint Nicholas’s Day.

Like Santa Claus, the brewers of Samichlaus beer carry out a very special task each December, when Austria’s Schloss Eggenberg brewery prepares a batch of Samichlaus on Saint Nicholas’s Day, just today, December 6! Samichlaus (Santa Claus in English) then is aged for 10 months, to be released the following winter and the result is a lager with notes of raisin, malt, and caramel. At 14 percent alcohol by volume, the drink, made in the a very strong style known as doppelbock, was once considered the strongest beer in the…

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Peppermint Pig: a curious Christmas tradition in Saratoga Springs, New York~

Yes. Smashing this pink candy pig with a tiny hammer is a curious Christmas tradition in Saratoga Springs, New York. Here, on Christmas Day families gather around tables to smash candies with hammers: a small pink candy with the shape of a peppermint pig, represent a tradition dating back to the 19th century. According to a local story, it was a regular quiet Christmas-Eve-night in the quaint Victorian village of Saratoga Springs. The first dusting of winter’s snow gathered in darkened downtown doorways and twirled by night’s wind seemed to…

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Lampreia de Ovos, an egg-based Christmas dessert which celebrate a bloodsucking fish!

Here we are: We are in Portugal, where for centuries nuns doubled as egg yolk–slinging pastry chefs, cementing the country’s specialty in yellow-coloured desserts. In religious houses, the egg whites were used for ironing, and the Convent Confectionery could evolve thanks to the use of the egg yolk surplus, which originated countless recipes. There’s for example ovos moles, small, seashell-shaped candies, or pão de ló de ovar, a decadent, gooey cake. Then there’s lampreia de ovos, perhaps the most unique among the yolk-based creations. The origin of the Egg Lamprey…

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Venezuelan Pan de Jamón~

Here we are: In Venezuela, traditional Christmas bread is made with ham, raisins, and olives! The name pan de jamón, which mean “ham bread”, doesn’t do this Christmas pastry justice: rather than imagining white bread topped with a piece of ham, imagine a cinnamon roll. Then swap the glaze and cinnamon filling for a golden egg wash and thin slices of savory ham, keep the raisins and add pimento-stuffed olives. Not enough strange? Add also some bacon! So, this is pan de jamón. If a Venezuelan feel the aroma of…

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Cougnou, a Christmas bread shaped like the baby Jesus

Here we are: We are in Belgium or in northern France, where bakers create a Christmas pastry that’s reminiscent of the shape of the baby Jesus himself! In the Southern Low Countries, is know also “bread of Jesus”. This pastry, often called cougnou, cougnolle, coquille de Noël, or with other different regional names, seems to have originated in ancient Hainaut, and it is a sweet brioche, sometimes studded or decorated with raisins, chocolate chips, or sugar crystals. Most often, it’s made of one large, elongated ball of dough in the…

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In Leiden, Netherlans, there is One of the few Floating Christmas Market in Europe.

We are in Leiden, Netherlands, where a market built atop boats is one of the few floating Christmas markets in Europe! As we know, Christmas markets are a very popular pastime in Europe and we can usually be found in every city. The differences between cities and countries is the size, the variety of products exposed, and location of the markets. For example, do you remember the ohbej ohbej Christmas market in Milan, Italy? However, the Christmas market in Leiden is unique in many ways because it floats on top…

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5# Milanese Panettone: history, legends and traditions.

If at Christmas, Americans enjoy pumpkin pie, the English have plum or Christmas pudding, all the Italians celebrate with panettone. Just the mention of this sweet Milanese speciality conjures up the aromas of citrus, vanilla, candied fruit and typical italian Christmas. In Italy, giving panettone is not a simple act of kindness but a gesture rich in history and tradition. Historically, it seems that the Panettone dates back as far as the Middle Ages when to celebrate Christmas, people would replace their daily bread with a richer recipe, a practice…

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