A Feast Day

21 Dec 2006

Christmas dinner is something we are all supposed to look forward to and enjoy as a great celebratory feast: to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to celebrate the birth of Christianity, to celebrate family and friendships, to celebrate the start of summer or the winter solstice or to celebrate because we have been told to and we are not really sure why.

" These days the Aussie Christmas lunch, as extolled by chefs across the land, revolves around seafood, barbeques and hassle-free entertaining. But this rather misses the point of Christmas. Hours if not days of preparation are necessary to engender the appropriate sense of occasion and few dishes are greeted wth broader smiles than the Christmas bird" (Christine McCabe, The Australian December 16th,2006).

This was from an article about Free range, organic turkeys so she did have something to sell but the sentiment about the necessity to engender a sense of occasion was what struck a chord with me.

We are such well fed people in the western world. Obviously from the obesity statistics you could infer that we are feasting every day. In days gone by for the average family a feast such as Christmas was something to look forward to I'm sure with its special foods and seasonal significance. Now for many its another big meal in a blur of big meals. Its main defining factor is that we get a day off work to eat it and we also get presents.

We also have a never ending supply of casual meals, formality at mealtime even in its simplest form; sitting at a table set with a knife and fork, is almost unheard of in many homes. The harried cook alone in the kitchen I think longs for company and help rather than a loss of tradition.

Ofcourse we don't have to stick to the culinary traditions of our forebears whatever our cultural background but we should take the time to make Christmas our own, imbue it with our ideals and prepare a worthy meal to celebrate those ideals. The challenge is to avoid being told what to do by "those who know" and really give some thought to what your family wants from this day and then give them the feast they deserve. I would accept all offers of help in the kitchen so your skills can be handed on and memories can be made, it takes many hands to make and enjoy a feast.

7 Responses to “A Feast Day”

  1. Your post echoes many of my feelings. We are lucky to dine around the kitchen table together most evenings and it is always properly set but Christmas will be different with the dining table all set and "for best" and I quite enjoy the slow preparation and planning of that special meal.

  2. I love this post, it speaks of so many of the things I think about daily. We do set a table each meal time. Cloth napkins, pretty plates etc which is so condusive to conversation and lenghty meal times. We did this the entire time our children were home too. We hardly ever missed a cue that a child needed some special time, just from the evening meal time conversation.
    We have lost some very vital aspects of the old days and traded them in for much less.

  3. One tradition we have kept in our family is the formal Sunday dinner. This is no small feat as church is a 45 minute ride away. We usually have a roast, cooked in a slow cooker, and all of the trimmings. Some Sundays the fine china is used and sometimes not, but all meals must have cloth napkins. Because we have a family of unusual schedules, most weekday lunches are sit down meals. This year on Sunday afternoon, the day before Christmas, we will have four generations and fourteen people at our very long table. The next day we will have just as many, but with a slight change in family members. It is work, but worth it.
    Lovely post:-)

  4. Traditions are created all the time so enjoy your own family feast--what ever that may be and teach the kids to give thanks because we are SO lucky!
    Merry Holidays and the happiest of New Years.

  5. I have been known to run around our *tiny* kitchen like a headless chicken, but I am older and have learnt to take more in my stride. I know our lunch will be amazing, because the people I love the most will be sat around the table enjoying it with me! That counts for an awful lot :)

    I hope you have a good Christmas if I don't get to say it later :)

  6. I always the love the Christmas afternoons, when the whole family is in the kitchen, preparing our meal and chatting and laughing. It is very special, because during the year I am mostly alone to make our dinner, I also like it, to chop and cut and stir up, to taste and spice. But not at the Christmas Eve, never.
    I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, wonderful happy days!
    Take care,

  7. I'm always making up new traditions for our family! For eg, I make our own xmas cake every year and each family member takes a turn to stir the mixture so we have all put something into its creation.


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