Feasts Around the World with Little Passports
In America, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is loved by all and revolves around giving thanks and chowing down on foods like turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, but it’s not the only holiday that requires an appetite. Come on a trip with Little Passports and teach your kids about other food-filled holidays from around the world and see just how other countries use food to celebrate.
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, takes place in March and is a celebration of the first day of spring. All of the food that gets eaten during Nowruz are chosen specifically for this celebration and are said to evoke spring and renewal as well as welcoming the coming year. One of the more meaningful dishes is Ash-e reshteh, a noodle soup made with spinach and green herbs. It's said that untangling the noodles as you eat will bring you good fortune in the upcoming year. Another one of Nowruz's traditional dishes, (sabzi pollo mahi), lays fish alongside a bed of herb-coated rice. The fish represents "abundance" and the herb filled green rice stands for the greenness of nature in the spring. Other dishes served at Nowruz include lamb and rice-stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh barg) and a green herb-filled omelet (kookoo sabzi). YUM!!!
The United Kingdom:
Though he lived over 200 years ago, Robert “Bobby” Burns is a Scottish poet who is so beloved in the United Kingdom that his birthday is celebrated as “Burns Night” every year. Around January 25th, people across the United Kingdom gather for “Burns suppers” and read Burns’ poetry aloud while feasting on Scottish dish haggis, which was one of Burns’ favorite foods. Haggis is chopped sheep heart, lungs, liver, oatmeal, onion, and spices stuffed and cooked in a sheep’s stomach! Burns thought haggis was so delicious, he wrote an entire poem about it called “Address to a Haggis.” (I personally believe that I'll past on this dish, what about you?)
Quickly becoming the most celebrated holiday outside New Year and Christmas for Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve is the time when Scandinavians celebrate the longest day of the year. Midsummer’s Eve takes place during the summer solstice, which is around June 21st. On this holiday, traditional songs are sung, people dance around a decorated pole called the “midsommarstang,” and everyone feasts. One of the most popular Midsummer’s Eve foods is a kind of fish, called herring, that is pickled with mustard and onions and served with boiled new potatoes, sour cream, dill, and chopped boiled eggs. Swedish meatballs, sausage, grilled meats, strawberries and cheese pie are also traditional dishes to eat on Midsummer’s Eve.
The largest and most important holiday in Korea is the harvest festival, Chuseok. This year, on September 18th, Chuseok celebrations took place over three days and involved visiting with family, giving thanks to ancestors, and lots of dancing. Braised beef shortribs (Galbi jjim), a savory pancake (jeon), and a sweet potato noodle dish (japchae) are foods that are commonly seen during Chuseok, but because rice is one of the crops celebrated during the harvest festival, the rice cake songpyeon is the main food of Chueseok. Songpyeon is made from kneaded rice flour, stuffed with chestnuts, red beans, and/or sesame seeds before being steamed over pine needles. Korean families gather to create songpyeon together and see who can make the prettiest shape!!
On the Greek island of Cyprus, preparation for Lent lasts over two weeks of feasting. Because people stay away from meat during Lent, one full week before Lent, is dedicated to eating large amounts of meat and another week dedicated to eating cheese! (Surprising right?! Almost hard to believe!) The week of meat is known as “Kreatini.” Traditional Kreatini dishes consist of pork stew (afelia), lamb skewers, that have been marinated and grilled (souvlaki) as well as a dish of baked lamb, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes (tavva). During Tyrini, the week of cheese, people eat a variety of sweet and savory cheese-filled pastries (bourekia), cheese cookies topped with herbs, bread filled with Halloumi cheese, and ravioli stuffed with local, fresh cheese. I'll admit that I'm a HUGE Meat and Cheese fan but a full week of each is a bit overboard, if you ask me. But if I was from Greece then I'm sure I would love it!
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