A Brief History Of Christmas Food

Besides exchanging gifts and getting together with the people we love, Christmas is also that time of year when special recipes are made. There are certain foods that have a ‘Christmas feel’ about them, often creating lots of holiday nostalgia. Christmas festivities have been carried down for centuries but where did it all begin exactly?

A fun Christmas food is the much-loved gingerbread house. Kids adore it and decorating the gingerbread house is a Christmas tradition shared in many households. Gingerbread men were highly popular in Elizabethan England, as women prepared the dessert to depict their husbands, as a sign of appreciation. They were made with flour, butter, ginger, baking soda, ground cloves and cinnamon for flavor, with the addition of sugar and molasses for sweetness. But, it was the German bakers that created the gingerbread house for the first time for Christmas celebrations and is believed to appear in approximately the same period as Martin Luther started the tradition of having candlelit Christmas trees. After the Brothers Grimm released their famous Hansel and Gretel story in 1812, the tradition of making gingerbread houses exploded around the globe.

Candy canes are another type of sweet food that is closely connected to the celebration of Christmas. It is said that this custom came from Germany around 1970 when the children in a local church choir received white candy in the shape of a shepherd’s crook in order to keep them quiet during the service. In the beginning of the 20th century, a candy manufacturer in Indiana thought about adding peppermint flavor to candy canes and using red stripes to make them more attractive. These sweets are still highly popular during Christmas, being used as a treat, for decorating gingerbread houses, or even for decorating the Christmas tree.

Buche de Noel or the Christmas Log, as many know it, is a special type of cake that is baked for Christmas in particular. It is believed that the tradition of making this cake is closely connected to the burning of the Yule log, which took place centuries ago, although no one knows for sure when the preparation of this type of cake started. If we take a look at the ingredients, it is very likely that the Christmas Log began to appear somewhere in the 19th century. The cake’s recipe includes eggs, sugar, flour, melted butter, chocolate butter cream, instant coffee, and hot water. It can be decorated with candied cherries, green sugar, and various candies.

Eggnog is still one of the most popular traditional Christmas beverages, also being among the oldest. How old is eggnog? Some believe that the first recipe for eggnog appeared in the 16th century, but under names like “posset” or “Syllabub”. The first written recordings of eggnog appeared only in the 18th century, making reference to the ‘milk punch’ that was prepared two centuries back, a sign that the beverage started to be appreciated on a larger scale. Eggnog is made out of eggs, brandy, rum, milk, and white sugar. Of course, the recipe can vary according to each person’s personal preferences.

These hearty foods are testament to the cold environment from which they originate. In Australia, with long hot summers, the Christmas Day cooking has developed into an outdoor barbecue, often with salads and cold beverages. Either way, Christmas food is all about sharing with family and celebrating!


Why Infant Care Is Important for Both Parents

Man achieves immortality largely through his children and his work. As soon as an infant has been born, its health and welfare become the first concern of both its father and its mother. This is one of the points of difference between man and most of the lower animals; and as culture and civilization advance, we find mankind attempting to provide better and better protection and educational and vocational opportunities for children. Sir Arthur Newsholme, leading English authority on public health, states: “Infant mortality is the most sensitive index of social welfare and of sanitary improvement which we possess. If babies were well-born and well cared for, their mortality would be negligible.”

In some sections of the world the chances are not more than one in two that a newborn child will live to reach its first birthday, and in some cities of our own country within the present century approximately one child out of three died during the first year of life. In the registration area of the United States 162 infants per 1,000 born alive died during the first year of life this number had been reduced to 64.6; the corresponding rates for several other countries were as follows: Chile, 234; India, 178; Ceylon, 175; Italy 125; Japan, 124; Germany, 96.4; France, 96; England, Scotland, and Wales, 63; Sweden, 58; Norway, 55; Switzerland, 51; and New Zealand, 35.

The major causes of infant mortality among the white population at the present time are prenatal and natal diseases and injuries, respiratory diseases, and gastrointestinal diseases. The toxemia of pregnancy and syphilis are the primary causes of premature births. Adequate care during the pm natal period and modern hospital facilities for the care of premature infants are effective measures in reducing these deaths.

The same may be said concerning some of the respiratory diseases. Bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections are serious in infants because they have little resistance against them. Hence, all infants should be safeguarded in every possible way from exposure to children and adults who may transmit colds or other infections to them. Malnutrition and the deficiency diseases lower the infant’s resistance and so contribute to the seriousness of these respiratory infections.

The diarrhea or intestinal diseases long occupied first place among the causes of infant mortality and still do so in certain countries. The marked reduction in the deaths from these diseases which has taken place has been due largely to sanitation and improved methods of infant feeding. Breast milk is the ideal food for a baby. Studies have shown that the death rate from intestinal diseases is three to ten times as high among artificially fed as among breast-fed children.

The young Women of today are physically superior to the women of previous generations and almost all of them are able to nurse their babies for at least the major part of the usual nursing period of nine months. Breast milk is desirable not only because it is easily digested and is most nutritious for the child, but also because it offers protection against diarrhea and intestinal diseases and increases resistance against measles, scarlet fever, and other common infections of infancy.

A few years ago a serious and frequently fatal blood disease of newborn infants was found to be caused by a certain incompatibility of the parent’s blood. This is dependent upon what is known as the “RH factor.” Tests can be made for this condition. If it exists, the risk to the child can be reduced by careful medical supervision and care during pregnancy.

The more important indirect causes of infant death are poverty and ignorance. Many studies have shown a direct correlation between low income of the wage earner and high infant mortality. One of these studies reports 168 infant deaths per 1,000 live births among families with an annual income of $500 or less as compared to a rate of 30 per 1,000 among families with incomes of $3,000 or more, and an increase of 20 per cent in the infant death rate in families of which the wage earner became unemployed during the depression years.

The conditions of poverty are all adverse to the survival of the delicate life of the newborn infant. On the other hand, poverty, unemployment, and larger families than can possibly be supported are frequently the result of the same sort of ignorance and irresponsibility which contribute to a high infant death rate. It has also been shown that, by instruction of the mother concerning the proper care and feeding of infants, it is possible materially to improve nutritional status, even though the family’s income is no more than relief allowance.

The US Children’s Bureau in Washington and the state and local health departments make available bulletins of information, advice, and, if necessary, public health nursing service for maternal and infant care, so that there is no longer any justification for the ignorance and neglect which has been responsible for most of the deaths of mothers and infants in the past.