Just thinking about our grandmother's moist chocolate cake with thick fudge frosting, makes our mouths water and our hearts warm. Our family, as far back as we can remember, made Belva's Chocolate Cake for birthdays and special celebrations. When presented with her special cake we felt loved.
Food goes beyond yummy flavor, good health and fun. Every bite in your mouth can trigger happy memories of the last time you ate it, or the smell of your mother's cooking calling you to a family meal. Whatever you happy memories are, the smell of good food can transport you right back in time.
Traditions bring families together and create a sense of unity. They can range from the simple to elaborate, the serious to hysterical and the dreaded to cherished. Traditions vary between families and cultures, but they can give us a sense of belonging and being a part of something bigger. There is nothing like the energy created when a whole nation stops for a holiday, businesses close and you know friends and family are sitting together celebrating.
Family traditions bring members together from great distances, sometimes just to share a meal and remember how much they love each other - and sometimes to drive each other crazy.
We have continued many traditions begun by our ancestors, as well as started new ones with our children. We write them down in our Family Book, keeping a sort of journal of our family history. Our children enjoy looking in the book to see which tradition is next.
Holiday food traditions
Erin's husband's large family celebrates Easter with a children's Easter egg hunt, followed by a daddies' hunt. The children's is simple and fun. The dad's hunt is more brutal and quite entertaining as they jump over lawn furniture and push each other off chairs trying to find the loot. Boiled eggs and chocolate bunnies bring back funny memories.
In the summers we gather at the beach for the Fourth of July and light a huge bon fire, snuggling into blankets. We watch the children light sparklers, and the city's fireworks over the ocean. S'mores, consisting of roasted marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers are served with sandy fingers.
In the fall Erin and her husband have started the Great Pumpkin Massacre tradition. They grow their own pumpkins and when they are ripe, designate a day to gut and carvethem on the deck. The evening is filled with warm soup, roasting pumpkin seeds, and hot cider in a crockpot. This tradition is one of her children's favorites.
Shannon celebrates Christmas by setting up treat tables all over the house. Each one filled with yummy food and a theme of its own. Shannon's husband invents a new comical Christmas tale and tells it by the fire. Everyone looks forward to the hilarious unexpected twists at the end leaving us laughing until we cry. Christmas morning wouldn't be complete without Grandma Bev's cinnamon rolls.
Good food has become essential at all our family traditions, our family events wouldn't be complete without some recipes passed down over generations. Traditions bring friends and family together all over the world. Here are some fun traditions from around the world to inspire you in your quest to start your own.
When a family is ready to help their child stop using a pacifier some families go to a children's park. Their child can leave the pacifier tied up on a special pacifier tree to help the little ones say goodbye. Danish Træstammer or Tree Logs are a fun desert you can find in bakeries and is quite easy to recreate at home.
Erin's husband lived in Spain for a few years, his favorite tradition was Siesta. The Spanish stop what they're doing and go home between 2 and 5 p.m., they have a large lunch, including "Tapas," followed by a 15-30 minute nap. This is a tradition he wishes he could practice now.
It is fun to see the first day of school in Germany. The children receive a Schultüte, a large cone filled with treats and school supplies. When Erin's family lived in Germany they loved watching the children walking to school with their elaborately decorated cones.
Mothers in West Africa take their children out when they are 8 on a walk to see the world around them. Family members are encouraged to meet the children on their first journey into the world.
When a baby is born, traditions say a red egg is used to send a message to the grandmother on the mother's side. Families come together to celebrate a child's life when the infant is 100 days old, what a wonderful way to celebrate a child.
Here is our favorite family recipe to add to your collection as you start your own family traditions.
Belva's Chocolate Cake
3 Cups flour
2/3 Cups oil
2 Cups Sugar
1 tsp salt
6 TBS cocoa powder
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 TBS vinegar
2 Cups water
2 tsp Baking Soda
Mix together the dry ingredients in a mixer, make a well and add the wet. Mix well and pour into a greased 10 x 14 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 min, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. Let cool and top with frosting.
(this frosting makes the cake!)
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cube margarine
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter and chocolate together in a large sauce pan on low, add 1 lb powdered sugar. Mix, it will remain very dry, add milk 1 Tbs at a time until fudgy and a desired consistency, then add a healthy tsp of vanilla.