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Author Topic: Christmas Eve traditions  (Read 2299 times)
Mike Irwin
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« on: December 21, 2017, 04:50:35 AM »

Anyone have any special foods/meals that they've always had on Christmas eve?

In my family we've always had shrimp of some form or another for Christmas eve. Maybe not always, but we've done it for a long time.

Some years it was just boil and peel shrimp cocktail (the years I made it with Alton Brown's cocktail sauce was a bit hit), one year was a shrimp dip with crackers and cheese (that was sort of disappointing, actually), and for many of the past years I've made shrimp scampi with either rice or pasta. Shrimp scampi was always one of my Mom's favorites. Even last year, when her memory was really failing, she enjoyed it and remembered it was one of our family traditions.

Now that Mom is gone, I'm not much in the Christmas spirit and I'm going to be solo Christmas eve, but I'm going to make shrimp scampi with angle hair for dinner. Some traditions are simply too tasty to abandon.
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mtnbkr
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 04:58:19 AM »

When my wife's maternal grandparents were still alive, the tradition was to go to their house on Christmas Even and have hors d'oevres before going to a late night church service.  Funny you mention shrimp because peel & eat shrimp with cocktail sauce was one of the items served.

Otherwise, we (my family or my wife's) had no specific Christmas Eve food tradition.  When I reached my teens, my folks preferred to do a Christmas Day brunch, augmented with various holiday snacks rather than a dedicated Breakfast and Lunch.  We'd get up, open presents, then have a brunch/late-breakfast consisting of some version of a breakfast casserole, then graze on the snacks until dinnertime.

Chris
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 05:00:51 AM »

I always wanted to introduce oysters into the holiday mix, but every time I tried to talk about it my Mom threatened to disown me. Smiley

Oysters were not her thing at all.

Come to think of it... maybe I'll spurge this year and make oyster stew. That's been a traditional Christmas Eve food in many cultures in the US for a long time.
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mtnbkr
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2017, 05:07:22 AM »

Oysters were never a thing in my family despite us being mostly clustered near coastal NC.  I didn't care much for them until I reached middle age, and even then I have to be "in the mood" for them.  I've never heard of them as a Christmas food though.

That said, at least on my dad's side, my grandfather was very sensitive about eating foods associated with poverty (potatoes for breakfast being a good example..."we weren't so poor growing up we had to resort to eating 'taters for breakfast!").  I wonder if oysters were another "poor person's food" to him.  Probably not as he routinely ate stuff I'd place lower on the socioeconomic ladder than oysters (chicken gizzards for example).

Chris
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RoadKingLarry
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2017, 05:20:30 AM »

I usually seem to end up working it and then working NYE as well.
Last year I actually had to work the night of Christmas day since the official company holiday was on Monday.
Oddly enough I didn't manage to get much work done.
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2017, 06:08:44 AM »

Well, your grandpa would be relieved to know that oysters are no longer poverty food...

They're expensive!
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2017, 06:16:10 AM »

Then again, there's always scalloped oysters and potatoes...
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2017, 06:47:17 AM »

Current price does not matter.  If it was "po folks food" when he was growing up, it still is today.

Chris
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2017, 06:54:37 AM »

Before I moved to my current town, we used to have a  dinner party with friends on Christmas Eve. Sometimes it was a full blown turkey dinner, sometimes it was pizza, sometimes it was a potluck. We called it orphan family Christmas and anyone who was not traveling for Christmas was invited. Usually much liquor was consumed with the party.

About half the guest were natives of the town, so their parents would drop by and say hi too during the evening. Apparently the folks born in the 40s and 50s it was a big deal to visit other friends on Christmas Eve in a big rolling party, so lots of parents and their friends dropped by.

It was a lot of fun, very laid back and way more fun that any family gathering.
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2017, 07:09:23 AM »

My wife and I are leaving on a cruise to Mexico tomorrow and will return on December 30th.  It will be interesting to see what the cruise line does for Christmas.  Back when the kids were young, we always did breakfast foods for dinner on Christmas Eve, and the kids thought that was a hoot.
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2017, 07:15:38 AM »

Nice! Let someone else do the cooking!

If it's anything like I've heard about, you're going to have a HUGE array of "traditional" Christmas foods -- American regional, Italian, British, German... Friends of mine went on a Christmas cruise a couple of years ago and they said the food was absolutely outrageous.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2017, 07:29:59 AM »

I always wanted to introduce oysters into the holiday mix, but every time I tried to talk about it my Mom threatened to disown me. Smiley

Oysters were not her thing at all.

Come to think of it... maybe I'll spurge this year and make oyster stew. That's been a traditional Christmas Eve food in many cultures in the US for a long time.

Oyster soup on Christmas Eve was a tradition in my Mom's family. I never cared for it, but I sure love fresh oysters on the half shell.
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MillCreek
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2017, 07:42:43 AM »

Nice! Let someone else do the cooking!

If it's anything like I've heard about, you're going to have a HUGE array of "traditional" Christmas foods -- American regional, Italian, British, German... Friends of mine went on a Christmas cruise a couple of years ago and they said the food was absolutely outrageous.

This is our first cruise together and we are going on the Ruby Princess.  At the recommendation of friends, we purchased the cruise through Costco Travel, so we will see how it goes.
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MillCreek
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Quote from: Angel Eyes on August 09, 2018, 01:56:15 AM
You are one lousy risk manager.
Mike Irwin
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2017, 08:07:06 AM »

I'm not sure who they cruised with, but they really enjoyed it.
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2017, 01:27:08 PM »

The paternal family did more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas.

Big family dinner, opening presents and then midnight service.

Swedish meatballs and korv were always served.

Christmas day was more of an open house type thing.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2017, 02:33:28 PM »

I traditionally smoke a turkey or two but those days are done. I gave away my smokers, my BBQ pit, My crawfish boil rig, ALL of it.  Cry

Grumpy Old Man
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RoadKingLarry
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2017, 05:35:44 PM »

Nice! Let someone else do the cooking!

If it's anything like I've heard about, you're going to have a HUGE array of "traditional" Christmas foods -- American regional, Italian, British, German... Friends of mine went on a Christmas cruise a couple of years ago and they said the food was absolutely outrageous.

So what are the odds on him getting one of those wonderful cruise line norovirus bonuses?

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/12/gigantic-cruise-ship-hit-with-foodborne-illness-outbreak/#.WjxhlkxFxEY
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If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

Samuel Adams
Chris
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2017, 07:49:19 PM »

Growing up, Christmas Eve was a gathering at my maternal grandparents home, with as many family members as could get together.  No formal meal, but tons of foods... shrimp, crab claws, quiche, summer sausage, cheeses, deviled eggs, homemade cookies, a ham, just set out for people to eat as they wanted.   Gifts were given, then pies and cakes. Very good memories.  I'm the oldest surviving male from those gatherings,  one aunt still kicking.  I learned to make cocktail sauce at these gatherings.   Now that I think about it, a lot of my early cooking lessons were at this event.

Thanks Mike.  It was a rough couple of days at work, but you managed to put a smile on my face.  One year, I got Kiss Double Platinum as a gift from the cool aunt. Convinced my grandfather to play it for me that evening. First song was Beth. Don't remember what followed it, but it didn't get played for more than 30 seconds before he shut it down.  Next year,  he gave me my first album of big band music, sings he loved from WWII.  Good stuff.  Great man.  I still need to get a 1911 in tribute to him...
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2017, 09:01:49 PM »

The paternal family did more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas.

Big family dinner, opening presents and then midnight service.

That's how my mom's side does Christmas.  That way everybody's free to go see other family on Christmas Day.  Other holidays, we do lunch to keep them free (though usually still full) at dinner.
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2017, 03:43:41 AM »

"Oysters were never a thing in my family despite us being mostly clustered near coastal NC.  I didn't care much for them until I reached middle age, and even then I have to be "in the mood" for them.  I've never heard of them as a Christmas food though."

I read a rather interesting article on how oysters may have become a Christmas food. There are two thoughts...

The first is that, prior to refrigeration, December was the first month where oysters could really be shipped safely throughout much of the country. So while oysters were generally plentiful and very cheap in the US, over the summer months they weren't available (at least fresh).

The second theory was that they became tied in with the Irish and Italian Catholic religious dietary restrictions, one of which is to avoid meat on Christmas eve (the origins of the traditional Italian feast of the 7 fishes). Again, oysters were plentiful and were very cheap, so they were adopted into the traditional celebrations.

Being Methodist/Lutheran, the religious aspect didn't really enter into consideration for my family with the shrimp. It was just just a good treat.

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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2017, 03:49:01 AM »

"Kiss Double Platinum album"

Here you go, Chris! Treat yourself!

https://www.ebay.com/i/361480303208?chn=ps

Only $600!

(Or, in beloved sister-in-law conversion rate terms, only two nipple tattoos!)


And I just looked up the song order.

Beth was the first track on side 4.

The song right after that?

Makin' Love.

No wonder your Grandfather 86'd it!
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Mike Irwin
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I Am Inimical


« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2017, 03:56:56 AM »

So what are the odds on him getting one of those wonderful cruise line norovirus bonuses?

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/12/gigantic-cruise-ship-hit-with-foodborne-illness-outbreak/#.WjxhlkxFxEY


That's a bonus! Quickly cleans you out so that you can eat more!
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mtnbkr
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« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2017, 04:09:59 AM »

"Oysters were never a thing in my family despite us being mostly clustered near coastal NC.  I didn't care much for them until I reached middle age, and even then I have to be "in the mood" for them.  I've never heard of them as a Christmas food though."

I read a rather interesting article on how oysters may have become a Christmas food. There are two thoughts...

The first is that, prior to refrigeration, December was the first month where oysters could really be shipped safely throughout much of the country. So while oysters were generally plentiful and very cheap in the US, over the summer months they weren't available (at least fresh).

The second theory was that they became tied in with the Irish and Italian Catholic religious dietary restrictions, one of which is to avoid meat on Christmas eve (the origins of the traditional Italian feast of the 7 fishes). Again, oysters were plentiful and were very cheap, so they were adopted into the traditional celebrations.

Being Methodist/Lutheran, the religious aspect didn't really enter into consideration for my family with the shrimp. It was just just a good treat.

Sounds plausible.  However, being both Methodist and geographically close to fresh oysters, they wouldn't have any seasonal significance for us.  They were there if you wanted them more or less year round.

Somewhat offtopic, regarding Kiss, I had Destroyer (Beth was on this album as well) and Dynasty on vinyl as a pre-teen.

Chris
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Mike Irwin
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« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2017, 05:07:07 AM »

"However, being both Methodist and geographically close to fresh oysters, they wouldn't have any seasonal significance for us.  They were there if you wanted them more or less year round."

And, I suspect that there probably weren't a lot of either Irish or Italian Catholics where you grew up. Same with me. It was all Germans, so that oyster stew tradition didn't worm its way into our cultures.

The seasonal aspect of it should have some significance, though, because the old saw of "you only eat oysters in months with R in it" is a good one no matter what.

In warmer months oysters aren't nearly as good as they are in the winter months. The water is warmer, more bacteria laden (which was a BIG consideration in the days when oyster estuaries were also the public sewers for many large cities). And, it's breeding season, which also affects the quality of the oyster.
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mtnbkr
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« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2017, 05:52:23 AM »

And, I suspect that there probably weren't a lot of either Irish or Italian Catholics where you grew up. Same with me. It was all Germans, so that oyster stew tradition didn't worm its way into our cultures.
Nope.  That area was (at the time) heavily Protestant Scots-Irish, English, and black folk with a salting of Native American.  I didn't meet my first Catholic until we moved to VA.

The seasonal aspect of it should have some significance, though, because the old saw of "you only eat oysters in months with R in it" is a good one no matter what.

In warmer months oysters aren't nearly as good as they are in the winter months. The water is warmer, more bacteria laden (which was a BIG consideration in the days when oyster estuaries were also the public sewers for many large cities). And, it's breeding season, which also affects the quality of the oyster.

Entirely possible on all points.  Oysters weren't a thing for us (as in cooking them at home).  When it came to seafood, it was always shrimp and various inshore fish like spot, flounder, and croaker. 

Chris
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