Tag Archives: holiday traditions

Frozen Hot Chocolate

I have always wanted to try this recipe. I see it online every year, but somehow I never seem to get my rear in gear and make it. But this year I am. Frozen hot chocolate. I remember seeing it in movies that take place in New York. The original recipe premiered at a restaurant called Serendipity.

This recipe is form A Spicy Perspective. It is simple to follow, and it tastes delicious. My kids were absolutely in love with it. We did have to change the recipe for us, we are allergic to dairy in our household (hence why I was always so slow in trying to recreate it.) But we discovered it could be easily replaced by cashew milk. We chose cashew milk because unlike almond mile and coconut milk it doesn’t have a heavy taste, and it is very thick and creamy more like traditional dairy milk.

We loved how fun it was to add this to our holiday movie night. It was a great addition to the popcorn. There is just something about the sweet and salty mix. This year’s holiday movie was Home Alone 2 Lost in New York. My oldest has fallen in love with this movie this year. She is finally old enough to get the slapstick comedy. My youngest just loves the big toy store scenes.

I definitely suggest this sweet treat. It made the night even more special.

Holiday Traditions: An Italian Christmas Book

When I was a little girl my mother would read us a book about holiday traditions. It told us about all of the ways that other cultures and countries celebrated. My mother’s grandfather came to America when he was a teenager. He came all the way from Italy at the age of 13, without his parents, and without his siblings. He came to work in America and eventually start a family of his own and create his own traditions. My great-grandfather was so passionate about America that he let many of his Italian traditions stay in Italy. Except for his Christmas traditions. Those he kept close.

So it made sense that every year all of us grandchildren learned just as much about Old Befana as we did Santa Claus. My mother read us the Legend of Old Befana every Christmas, of an old italian woman searching for the Christ Child. I remember the book very plainly. But had not seen it in years. So I was surprised to see it in the bookstores this holiday season. Originally published in 1980 it has been reissued this year. Now I can bring it home and share it with my own children and renew the tradition that has lasted for so many generations in my family.

Just like Santa, Old Befana delivers presents to the little girls and boys that have been good, and lumps of coal to those that have been bad. She uses her broom to sweep away the bad things of the year and usher in good things for the new year. The Legend of Old Befana is a great traditional story for any Italian family, or any family looking to learn about other cultures.

The History of Christmas Trees

History of Christmas Trees

Did you know that the history of Christmas trees dates back even before the first Christmas? Christmas trees date back as far as the Ancient Egyptians. In Ancient Egypt people worshiped and treasured evergreen trees because they symbolized eternal life. Evergreens stay healthy and green all year long. Because the trees do not change color or die the Egyptians would bring in their branches during the winter months to symbolize the triumph of life over death. Each year the world knew that life would triumph and the spring and rebirth would come because of the evergreens triumph over death in the winter.

The Egyptians were not the only culture to recognize the evergreens as eternal life. The Romans also recognized the always green trees and would use them and mistletoe to help them celebrate their winter solstice each year by placing the evergreen branches and mistletoe over their front doors to keep away death and evil spirits.

Many years later in the Middle Ages Germans and Scandinavians began the well known tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the house. Each winter they would choose a beautiful evergreen and place it in their homes or at their doors as a reminder that spring was coming and it would be bountiful.

Christmas trees came to America when in 1851 Mark Carr a farmer in New York hauled two of sleds containing evergreens into New York City and sold them. By the year 1900 one in every five Americans were celebrating the tradition by purchasing a tree and decorating it and displaying it in their house. During the Great Depression the tradition became much more common since nurserymen could not sell their trees for landscaping they began planting Christmas tree farms and selling trees just before Christmas. These trees that were grown specifically for use as Christmas trees became the most popular form of Christmas trees sold because they maintained their perfect shape and looked beautiful on display. Today almost everyone has had or knows someone who has a Christmas tree during the holidays. Today there are over 6 species of trees used as Christmas trees including Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Balsam Fir, White Pine, and White Spruce. Which is your favorite tree? When does your family traditionally buy their tree? In recent years families have begun to display and decorate their trees as early as Thanksgiving.