Holiday Sweets and Special Treats!

Holiday Sweets and Special Treats!

'Tis the season for yummy treats of all kinds!

During the holidays, especially in December, celebrations filled with tasty goodies are everywhere you look.

The treats that show up during the holidays are special. Sometimes it’s because these dishes take a long time to prepare, and sometimes it’s because they have special connections to the holidays.

Let’s take a look at some of the special goodies from around the world!

Holiday Treats From Spain

Roscon de Reyes-Spanish twisted roll of kings

A traditional holiday treat in Spain is Roscon de Reyes, known as the “twisted roll of kings.”  This tasty pastry has been a part of the holidays since the 4th century when it was adopted by Christians as a part of the celebration.

Filled with dried figs and candied citrus peels, seasoned with cinnamon, the bread is sometimes sliced like a bagel and filled with a fluffy, sweetened cream!

This treat also has a surprise. Like the New Orleans King Cake, served during Mardi Gras, a small glass figure or coins are baked into the sweet bread. Whoever gets the slice with the trinket in it gets to be “king” or “queen” for the day, or they’re declared lucky for the whole year!

Holiday Treats From China


making Chinese dumplings

In China, their big holiday celebration involves the Chinese New Year. One special dish is a traditional “must” during this time.

Dumplings are prepared and everyone in the family participates. It’s part of the fun for everyone to join in with the making of the dumplings!

Filled with anything you like, typical fillings are things like Chinese cabbage, green onion, pork, and shrimp. The dumplings symbolize the end of the old and the start of the new, which is why they’re part of the New Year’s celebrations.

Occasionally, the dumplings will be made with a coin inserted at random. Again, the person who finds the coin-stuffed dumpling is said to have good luck for the rest of the year!

Holiday Treats From Brazil

Rabanada for Christmas

A Christmas favorite in Brazil is rabanada. Foods in Brazil are a mix of foods from all over the place, like Germany, Portugal, Italy… all the places people immigrated from as Brazil grew.

Rabanada is a dish which originated in Spain and Portugal. We would recognize it as French toast!

This yummy dish is served as a dessert or an afternoon treat, rather than for breakfast. Cinnamon and sugar spiced, served with honey or syrup, it’s a delicious treat no matter what time of day it is!

Holiday Treats From the USA

Gingerbread Cookies and Candy Canes

In the United States lots of favorites show up in different places all over the country. Gingerbread and candy canes and cookies of all kinds make a special appearance during the holidays!

Much like Brazil, the traditional foods in the USA come from all over the world. Gingerbread (both the bread and the cookies) originated in Europe during the Middle Ages when the spice trade was introducing exotic spices from the far East along the “Silk Road.”

Holiday Treats From Italy


Italy has lots of different traditional sweets, dozens in fact! Christmas in Italy is a special time of year for gatherings of family and friends to enjoy lots of delicious foods and good company.

One holiday treat that’s popular all over Italy can be found in Italian communities all over the world—Panettone.

Panettone is filled with candied citrus, raisins, and other dried fruits. This tasty cake-like bread got its start in Milan.

Popular and found all over during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, this bread takes some time to prepare. In fact, it can take up to 18 hours to prepare! Whew!

Holiday Treats From Ireland


Irish Christmas Cake

In Ireland, holiday celebrations wouldn’t be complete without the Christmas Cake.

This cake is another made with candied fruits and highly spiced. Lots of countries have a version of a “fruit cake.” And everyone has their own special way to make it!

The Irish Christmas Cake is dense and packed with flavor. It’s another which takes a few days to make. Definitely not an “everyday cake!” The fruits soak in juice overnight.

Then, once the cake batter is made, the Christmas Cake goes into the oven for as long as 4 ½ hours. That’s a loooong, slow bake!

Once cooled, the traditional toppings are a layer of marzipan and then a layer of royal white icing. That’s a seriously rich cake.

Holiday Treats From Ethiopia

Doro Wat with Injera

Christmas in Ethiopia is a solemn and special holiday. Called Ganna, it’s celebrated on January 7th.

After a period of fasting for 43 days (called Tsome Nebiyat or the Fast of the Prophets,) a light meal is enjoyed at dawn. During the fasting period, the people have one vegan meal per day. While they observe the fast, meat, dairy, and eggs aren’t eaten.

Once the fasting is done, families gather later in the day to enjoy spicy Doro Wat, scooped up with the Ethiopian flat bread called Injera!

Holiday Treats From South Korea

Rice Cake Soup

Celebrate the Lunar New Year, Seollal, in South Korea! Just like Chuseok, Seollal is a time for gathering with family and reconnecting with traditions, foods, talk, and games.

Seollal is the most important of the traditional seasonal festivals. They celebrate the holiday with a special soup called tteokguk, or “rice cake soup.”

This soup is made with thinly sliced Korean rice cakes, broth, veggies, and seasoned with onions and garlic. Plus, there’s a special meaning behind having this soup during Seollal.

Eating a bowl of tteokguk symbolizes growing a year older. Do you think that if you had lots of bowls of rice cake soup it would mean that you grew up really fast? It’s a fun part of the tradition to ask how many bowls of soup people have had to guess their age!

Holiday Treats From Mexico

Tamales, Mexican hot chocolate, sugar cookies

For our last stop in this exploration of yummy holiday foods around the globe, let’s take a peek at Mexico.

Christmas is a pretty big holiday in Mexico, but Christmas Eve is when the celebration begins!

Part of the traditional special occasion foods in Mexico are tamales. A savory (or sweet) and yummy treat, tamales are made from masa harina- corn flour, and can be filled with meat and cheese or fruits!

Wrapped in a corn husk and steamed for an hour or more, it takes a long time to prepare and assemble tamales. Each one is like a little present though… You get to unwrap them to devour them!

You Can Explore Holiday Treats From Around The World!

Major holidays around the world include all sorts of savory and sweet treats! Even in different parts of the country, people have their own traditions for what they enjoy.

What special treat do you get to enjoy during the holidays?

Trying out new foods from different cultures is a great way to learn about new people. You might find something that becomes a part of your traditions!

It’s a fun way to eat2explore!

Happy Holidays, lighted garland, and ornaments


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