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Culinary Christmas traditions: Good eats on the holiday

Christmas morning is a very special time for many families.

There are almost as many traditions as there are families. Typically, families gather around the Christmas tree to open gifts and have breakfast. Every family has its own Christmas traditions and favorite foods.

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When I was a child, Christmas morning was a very special time for my family. My brother and I were typically up first. Once Mom and Dad got up, Mom would start the coffee. If I think real hard, I can still hear the sound of the old-fashioned percolator that she had when I was a kid. Later on she had a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. The smell of brewing coffee is still one of my ultimate favorite aromas.

Christmas morning breakfast in my house typically consisted of sausage, eggs and pancakes. Occasionally, the pancakes would be substituted with French toast. I loved those breakfasts. My mom would boil the sausage for a while and then put it in the oven to get it nice and crispy. The eggs were soft and fluffy, and the pancakes were sweet and delicious. Mom would warm up the syrup and there was plenty of warmed butter to put on the pancakes.

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As teenagers, breakfast became a team effort, with all of us chipping in to help prepare the meal. As young adults, my brother sort of took over the meal prep and then once we were married, the breakfast became about spending time together as a family and less about the meal. Then my mom decided to serve a homemade monkey bread, bagels, donuts, muffins and fruit and, of course, coffee.

After my mom and then my dad passed away, my brother and his family went back to the big prepared breakfasts, while I have chosen to continue with the bagels and muffins.

I'm told different cultures from around the world have many other traditions and foods on Christmas.

In Germany, a traditional Christmas treat is Dresdner stollen, a type of fruitcake made with candied fruits and nuts and brushed with powdered sugar and stored for at least two weeks before being eaten.

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Linzer torte, a jam-filled torte with a crumbly crust and signature lattice top, is a popular Christmas dish in Austria.

In Puerto Rico, a traditional Christmas food is pasteles, which is a savory tamale-like filled pastry that can be made in a variety of different ways.

In Australia and New Zealand, a traditional Christmas dish is pavlova, which is a baked meringue, crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, topped with whipped cream and fruit.

No matter what country you are in or what your family or cultural traditions are, one thing is universal — most children will be more interested in what is under the Christmas tree than eating Christmas breakfast. So for families, making a quick and easy, yet delicious Christmas breakfast that will hopefully entice the little ones to eat is especially important. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day — even if the day is Christmas.

Merry Christmas!.

Terry Chaney is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at

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