I’m not alone in my love of Christmas. We all know “it’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeear”! At Cacao art we plan to celebrate in style. We have tons of ideas: from our own chocolate-filled crackers to our new gingerbread ganache bonbon. These and other ideas come from our shared traditions and memories from our childhood Christmases.
It would all start with the advent calendar. Each year my mother would get us gorgeous calendars, from the very traditional German ones with Nativity scenes or the more outgoing ones with a little chocolate on each day. One year, even my dolls got a tiny advent calendar all for themselves.
Then there was decorating our huge tree, saying hello to all the little toys and ornaments that we hadn’t seen all year. We would also set a very elaborate Nativity scene. Each year, my mother had to devise a whole new way of having a real water river flowing from one end of the set to the other. It grew more and more elaborate, to the point where she now has a working knowledge of mini-water pumps. She would also use fairy lights that were programed to turn on and off, for a day-and-night effect. The main figures, Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St Joseph and others, are hand-made wooden figures bought ages ago in Europe. They are elegant and highly detailed. There was also a tiny Santa’s village and a farmer’s village near the manger with little scenes playing out: a wedding at the tiny church, some figurines going to market. The result was a beautiful, whimsical set that would charm everyone.
It’s also a very Venezuelan tradition to get the whole family together to make hallacas, a kind of corn tamale filled with a stew which has pork, beef and chicken and also sofrito, olives, raisins, almonds and more. It may sound strange (raisins, really?) and maybe they are an acquired taste, but nothing says Christmas to a Venezuelan like unwrapping the bananas leaves around an hallaca. Susana remembers going to my aunt’s house to help make thousands of the little packaged goods with my brother and dozens of cousins. She has recreated this tradition here in Miami, by hosting the hallaca-making at her home.
Another of our lovely Caracas Christmas traditions was going around to the different shopping malls and gazing up at the Christmas trees and decorations. We would also go and gawp at the details in the huge Nativity scene at the San Juan de Dios Children’s Hospital, where we would also leave a donation for the children.
Then I got married and now I need to have my mother-in-law’s velvety ponche crema, which is a type of egg-less eggnog with a good dose of rum, Angostura bitters, vanilla and nutmeg. Susana has to have both our traditional baked ham and her husband’s preferred turkey for Christmas dinner. Just a few of the ways traditions evolve and become richer, right?
I could go on and on… and maybe I will, in a next blogpost.