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Holiday Recipes and Traditions In the College of Arts and Sciences

Among many faiths and cultures, colder months often usher in a season of celebrations honoring light, life, resilience and rebirth. From Diwali to Hanukkah, Christmas to the Chinese New Year, these holidays offer moments for us to spend time with and appreciate our loved ones and look with hope to the future.

As we come together across differing backgrounds to give thanks at the end of this uniquely challenging year, the College of Arts and Sciences community wants to share the small moments that make the season special, even though our celebrations likely look a bit different this season.

Below you'll find an introduction to the holiday recipes and traditions submitted by students, faculty and staff in the college. Find the full selection on our website, linked below.

"In France during January, people buy (or more rarely, make) 'galettes des rois.' These are cakes in which are hidden a 'fève,' literally a bean but now usually a small ceramic or plastic figure. The one who gets it is king or queen for the day in the manner of the Magi, with the honor of wearing the gilt paper crown packaged with the cake. When we lived in France for a year with small daughters we would buy one every other day, all month long!"

Sarah-Grace Heller, associate professor in the Department of French and Italian

"A new recipe that I started about two years ago is orange and maple butternut squash. It’s really good for any type of diet, especially for people that are super particular. You can find the original recipe on the Food Network website. However, I like to incorporate my own twist."

Gina Lee, neuroscience student.

"Known in English as 'potato pancakes,' latkes are the quintessential Chanukah dish of Ashkenazi Jews, fried in lots of oil to celebrate the miracle of lights. This recipe comes from my father, Alan, who learned it from my maternal grandmother, Fay."

Harry Kashdan, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of French and Italian

"Every Christmas Eve, my parents and I (and our cats, if they're in cooperative moods) sit by the Christmas tree and read The Night Before Christmas. Our copy is illustrated with a set of beautiful drawings, and I look forward to seeing them each year!"

- Helen McHenry, international studies student

Holiday foods hold sentimental value for many people, connecting us with our parents, grandparents and deeper heritage and family history. This year, those connections are explored in three conversations with Arts and Sciences faculty.

From left, Harry Kashdan, Elena Foulis and Andi Wolfe, who each share insights on the cultural significance of food during the holidays.
"Every year around Christmas my family makes Kleinur, an Icelandic pastry. We do this to remember my grandfather and his family from Iceland."

- Gena Porotsky, psychology student

"Every year for as long as I can remember, my family has gotten matching Christmas Pajamas. My parents let us unwrap them Christmas Eve and we all go out them on and get a picture then go to bed. When we wake up Christmas morning and unwrap gifts we are all in our matching pajamas."

- Rebecca Terrill, biology student

"My wife and I get a new ornament every year since 1998, the year we were married."

- Jonathan Baker, associate professor of statistics

"On Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23), several families on my block would exchange plates of cookies and other baked goods, delivered by the children. It was fun making cookies with my mom and brother on the 22nd and then delivering the plates of cookies to the neighbors on the 23rd."

- Amy Selby, psychology student

Also included in this year's recipes are challah, old country Hessian-style braised kraut, "sassy" sugar cookies, raw apple cake, strawberry pretzel squares and more.

Explore what makes holidays special for students, faculty and staff in the Arts and Sciences and learn more about how these celebrations foster connection.