No two families in Town Center celebrate the holidays the same way, so we dug a little deeper into some of the fun holiday traditions that are celebrated in our area!
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights. This five day celebration symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. On Diwali night, families keep their houses open and well lit to invite Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Common snacks and desserts shared during this holiday include samosa and chirote. Samosa is typically a fried dish with a savory filling and chirote is a sweet delicacy served on special occasions like the Festival of Lights. Try making samosa with this recipe!
A lot of families in our area celebrate Hanukkah, which is the Jewish Festival of Lights. Its celebration takes place over an eight-day period, typically in December. Hanukkah honors one of the most significant miracles in Jewish history, and the word itself means dedication. Families celebrate Hanukkah by lighting one candle a night on the candelabra, known as a menorah. The menorah holds nine candles, with the ninth being slightly out of place from the other eight. This candle is lit first and used to light all the other candles. The lighting of each candle signifies the original oil lamp in the temple that burned for eight days. In recent times, some families give a small gift to each other on each night of Hanukkah. Typical foods associated with Hanukkah include, Potato Latkes, Rugelach, and Challah bread pudding. Click here to learn how to make Potato Latkes!
Christmas is another popular holiday in our area, a celebration of birth for many Christians that occurs on December 25th. As with most other holidays, Christmas traditions have evolved over the years. Some typical traditions you see associated with Christmas include stockings by the fireplace, a decorated tree, lights strung around house, and milk and cookies left out for Santa Clause. Some families prepare their little ones for Santa's arrival on Christmas Eve by reading the classic story, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Recently, families have incorporated Elf on the Shelf into their homes for the month of December, a tiny elf who reports back to Santa whether children in the household are being good or bad. On both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, families indulge in meals passed down through generations. Such dishes include Yorkshire pudding and roast beef for families of English descent, Italian-Americans enjoy the Feast of the Seven Fishes, Irish-Americans roast turkeys and German families have a Christmas or Yule ham. Learn how to make Yorkshire pudding with this recipe!
Kwanzaa, a seven day observance, celebrates African heritage and culture. The celebration begins on December 26th by lighting candles, giving gifts and decorating homes. On December 31st, participants come together for a special feast called Karamu where families cook abundances of their favorite dishes. These dishes include creole and Cajun inspired dishes, jerk chicken, sweet potato pie, rice and beans. This spiritual and joyous holiday focuses heavily on ancestry. Try this recipe for Cajun catfish!
In our area, New Years Eve is typically celebrated with loved ones looking forward to a night full of excitement. Some families gather round their TVs to watch the famous New Year Ball drop in Times Square. At the strike of midnight, couples share a New Years Kiss that is believed to bring a year of strengthened ties and good luck. Families bang pots and pans on their front porches and sip champagne as they welcome in the year to come.
The celebration doesn't end at midnight though. Wake up on New Years Day and head down to Philadelphia to catch the Mummer's Parade - presumed to be one of the oldest folk festivals in the country! Families cook bountiful meals for dinner in spirit of luck and prosperity. Pork & sauerkraut is a common one here in Chester County (a Pennsylvania dutch tradition). Another typical New Years dish said to bring good luck are black-eyed peas (a Southern US tradition). Follow this recipe for black-eyed peas that your whole family will love! Don't forget to set your resolutions... and try to follow through with them!
While all families celebrate holidays in their own unique ways, there is a common denominator you find among them all - cherished moments spent with loved ones. And lots of yummy meals!
Please comment below any special traditions that your family shares!