The Hour Eight winner of
Southern Praline Candy
a What Happens at Christmas mouse pad
Donna M. Brown
Hour Two — All The Holidays of the Season
I was raised in a pretty traditional Catholic household, so we celebrated all the major Christian holidays. But there are some other holidays and festivities that take place at time of year, and really add to the beauty of the winter season.
Hanukah is the Jewish Festival of Light, commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It’s observed for eight nights and days, taking place at any time from late November to late December. It’s most memorable symbol is the Menorah, the unique, nine-branched candelabrum. Many families exchange small gifts each night and there are wonderful traditional foods to celebrate the holiday.
Diwali is known as the “festival of lights,” and is primarily a holiday in the Hindu and Sikh tradition. It falls between mid-October and mid-November. There are a number of regional variations in the celebrations, but they generally involve lighting small clay lamps and setting off firecrackers. People wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks in gatherings with family and friends. There’s also Pancha Ganapati, a festival celebrated from Dec. 21 to 25 in honor of Lord Ganesha. Some describe it as the Hindu alternative to Christmas, and it includes outings, picnics, and the exchange of gifts.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 as a specifically African-American holiday. It is now also celebrated in Canada, and runs from December 26 through January 1st each year. It was established as a way to support African-Americans in reconnecting with their ancient heritage, and celebrates the seven principles of Nguzo Saba. Families decorate their households and celebrations often include cultural performances.
Winter Solstice is the time of year when the winter sun is at its lowest altitude on the horizon – the shortest day of the year. The Solstice was recognized by many cultures and religions traditions, and usually symbolized rebirth and the renewal of life. It was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons, the indigenous people of Scandinavia, early Christians, ancient Slavic cultures, and is still observed by many people around the world today.
There are many more winter festivals, of course, including St. Lucy’s Day, Boxing Day, Twelfth Night, and the Chinese New Year. Perhaps all this celebration is a way to lighten and bring joy to what is a very dark and cold time of year. It makes perfect sense to me!
Readers, I’d love to know what special or favorite traditions you observe during the holiday season, religious or otherwise. Do you have cultural or family traditions that are particularly meaningful? Let’s share!
The Hour Seven winner of
a What Happens at Christmas mousepad
a White House ornament
Hour One — Welcome to Romancing the Holidays!!!
Time for Brunch?!
Happy Holidays, everybody! I’m so excited to be here for today’s Gala, hosted by our wonderful friends at The Romance Dish, PJ and Andrea. Thanks so much, ladies! What a day it’s been so far, right? And there’s more fun in store, but I also want to remind everyone that we’ll be making donations to women’s shelters and libraries at the end of the day, and we’re encouraging you to do the same. It’s always a good idea to check out your local library and shelter and see if they need any book donations, and it’s very sensible way to clean out your bookshelves and spread the reading love.
One of the topics of conversation today is favorite holiday recipes. My mother was a fantastic cook who really pulled out the stops at this time of year, so I have lots of good recipes from her secret horde. But rather than giving you one for her cookies or pies, I thought I’d go with one of her delicious brunch dishes. After all, there’s nothing like a good breakfast or brunch to set you up for holiday celebrating.
To start us off on the right foot, here’s Flora’s Holiday Brunch Strata. My mom often served this on Christmas morning, and it was always a winner.
~ 12 slices of good white bread, cubed.
~ 8 eggs
~ 1 cup of sweet onion, finely chopped
~ 4 cups milk
~ 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
~ 2 cups cubed ham
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ ½ teaspoon pepper
Place bread cubes in buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Layer the onions and the ham & cheese on top of the bread. Beat the eggs, milk and seasonings together and pour over the ingredients in the dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Feel free to add whatever herbs and other seasonings you think might go nicely with this dish. Then, pour the champagne and orange juice and start celebrating!
What are some of your favorite recipes for the holidays? Feel free to share!