5 Classic Christmas Foods: Where They Came From and How to Make Them Right

From Yuletide to Christmas and an “egg and grog in a noggin,” find out where your favorite Christmas food traditions originated

Do you know why we leave cookies out for Santa?

Interestingly, Christmas, a decidedly Christian holiday, is actually an amalgamation of cultural and religious celebrations that have converged and evolved over centuries.

The pagan Yule — a Germanic midwinter festival celebrating the winter solstice or the rebirth of the sun — involved feasts, sacrifice, and merriment. With the rise of Christianity, the Yuletide transformed into Christmastime, however, many pagan traditions — or versions of those traditions — seemingly stuck.

A fun example of this is the legend of Santa Claus, a character born from the Norse/Germanic pagan deity Odin. Odin wore a blue cloak, donned a long white beard, and brought gifts to his people with the help of his trusty eight-legged stallion, Sleipnir.


The origins of favorite Christmas food traditions from eggnog to gingerbread to roast Christmas ham may not all be thanks to Norse gods, but they do come from surprising origins. Check out this list of holiday food classics to find out where they really came from; then, we’ll show you the best ways to make, eat, and enjoy them.