Are holidays for everyone?

I read an article recently from NPR that discussed the appropriation of holidays by other cultures, and it got me thinking. 

As a gourmande, I am keenly interested in food specialties and traditions, and I love to taste them whenever I get the chance.

Fairs, markets, food stores with items from other countries and cultures – these are all irresistible to me in the same way some people love shopping malls. Does that mean I am turning their time-honoured traditions into a foodie trend?

Most of us enjoy foods that are traditional in our family at various holidays throughout the year. Some of them come from our heritage, but many have been swallowed up by the masses as a general tradition – especially in North America, where there is such a broad blend of many immigrant cultures.

We all celebrate most holidays, and some have become more about the celebration than the significance. The example in the article mentioned St. Patrick’s Day.

This was a day meant to promote understanding and kindness for the new Irish immigrants, and yet it is now more about green beer and parties in bars. That promotes the very stereotype that communities were trying to dispel when they invented the holiday.

Have you ever enjoyed Chinese food during their New Year? Or perhaps you attended a Diwali festival?

Maybe you have been to a Gentile Passover feast? That is apparently one of the latest food adventure trends. I wouldn’t want to force my way in to someone else’s celebration, but I am intrigued by new tastes and stories.

Since holiday meals represent a celebration of life and love or even survival, is it bad if we share that sentiment even if we aren’t celebrating the specific history of our own family?

I am truly torn with this debate. I understand the value of guarding one’s own heritage. I also believe that one of the best ways to understand another person and their heritage, their world, is to share a meal with them.

Learn what makes them happy, what is important to them, how they feel about their place in the world. Around the dinner table we can listen to the stories and enjoy hospitality, and hopefully reserve judgement until at least dessert.

The symbolism of a friendly atmosphere during a meal goes all the way back to Biblical times and is true in Christian and Jewish tradition.

Have you heard the expression of “breaking bread”?

Nowadays, that expression can represent anything shared, not just a meal. At its origin, it was about sharing the spirit of life itself. Sharing bread with others was a sign of respect for them, and value for their lives.

I wonder if we go back to this symbolic meaning, perhaps we can better achieve a common ground for understanding.

I don’t want to take over Hanukkah customs when I make latkes, and I don’t mean to disrespect Irish immigrants when I make soda bread.

I don’t go to church, but I can still value the significance of the story behind hot cross buns. These sweet buns, like many traditional delicacies, are meant to represent a bit of decadence – in this case due to the end of Lent.

Plain buns were made through Lent, and on Good Friday sweet buns were made with a cross on top representing the crucifixion of Jesus and spices symbolizing those used to embalm his body for burial.

One story says they were first invented by a monk in the 12th century who gave the buns to the poor on Good Friday.

The hot cross bun is a good example of sharing traditions, if an exaggerated one.

They are sold throughout much of the year now; in the U.K. during the 1500s-1600s, the government decreed a law that sweet buns not be sold except at burials, Christmas and Easter.

Stories abound on the legendary powers of these little breads: buns bought on Good Friday will not spoil; buns taken on a sea voyage will prevent shipwreck; a piece of a bun given to someone who is ill can help them recover; buns hung in the kitchen rafters will prevent against fires and ensure perfect bread in the coming year. 

Just like I don’t think a single meal shared is going to solve the problems of the world, I rather doubt a hot cross bun hung in my kitchen will prevent me from messing up on my bread baking. However, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? I will be baking some on Friday. (Recipe link: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/hot-cross-buns/ )

My theory is that yes, all holidays are for everyone. We just shouldn’t be greedy. There is no need to take anything over, let’s just have a little bite. Gluttony is a sin, just like any other form of excess.

Sit back and reflect on what you have tasted, and heard. Digest it all. Then toast to everyone’s good health, and be grateful.

I wish each and every one of you a Happy Easter, however you celebrate it.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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