Advent Foods


Introduction | 1. Cookies | 2. Fruitcake | 3. Drinks | 4. St. Lucia Treats


It should always be remembered that like Lent, Advent is a period of penitence and sacrifice. Prior to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, in fact, the Roman church observed a fast (albeit one much less demanding than the Lenten fast), and prior to Vatican II it continued to require fasting during the Advent Embertide. It is therefore a salubrious custom to practice some kind of abstinence (e.g. giving up a favorite food) during Advent as a sober reminder of the season.

Yet because it anticipates the Nativity, Advent cannot help but be suffused with joy as well. Traditional treats, especially on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) and during the "Golden Nights" (December 16 to 24), have long been a part of Advent observance. These hints of celebration have nothing to do with the ungodly bacchanalia of the annual Christmas party at the office or on the block, and can therefore be made part of a holy preparation for the Lord.


1. Cookies

Cookies are a favorite traditional treat during Advent, especially on St. Nicholas Day and during the octave before Christmas. Springerles or Peppernuts (Pfeffernusse) are popular in Germany, Diples ("folds," for the infant Jesus' swaddling clothes) in Greece, and Speculaas cookies (on St. Nicholas Day) in the Netherlands.


2. Fruitcake

With their alcoholic content and heavy texture, fruitcakes are the preferred winter treat for many adults. Again, the kind of fruitcake will various according to nationality.


3. Drinks

As if a rum-laden piece of fruitcake weren't enough, there are special holiday drinks to toast the imminent arrival of the Christ Child. Eggnog and Rum pots are especially popular during the Octave before Christmas or the Golden Nights (see Customs), while Swedish mulled wine or Bishop's wine is drunk on St. Nicholas Day (December 6).


4. St. Lucia Treats

As mentioned elsewhere, delicious cakes and goodies are traditionally served in Scandinavian countries on St. Lucy's feast day (December 13). These include pastries (Lussekattor) in Norway and ginger snap cookies (Luciapepperkakor) in Sweden. One particular favorite, which can be found in many cookbooks, is St. Lucy's Crown, two loaves of braided bread made into a crown, drizzled with frosting and adorned with cherries, candies, and candles.

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Advent Schema | Advent Customs

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