Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!
The holidays are upon us, and amidst the bustle of December activity, we often lose the spirit of the season. This year I invite you to hark back to the traditions of Europe and have yourself a merry “Little Christmas.”
What It Is
Traditionally and liturgically, the Christmas Season does not begin until Christmas Day. The days preceding Christmas comprise the season of Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas Day and is intended to be the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. The Christmas Season actually occurs during the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany. Remember that annoyingly redundant song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? That’s what they’re singing about—the twelve days of the Christmas Season! In Germany, the Christmas holiday begins around noon on Christmas Eve, when stores begin to close, and continues through Christmas Day 1 and Christmas Day 2. In many European countries, they recognize “Little Christmas,” the feast of the Epiphany, as a day for gift-giving and celebration. Take a lesson from the Europeans this year: enjoy all of your Advent preparations and savor the Season of Christmas.
Bring It Home
Every year, I have a coffee morning on January 5th (the Twelfth Day of Christmas) or January 6th (Little Christmas, or Epiphany). I leave up my Christmas decorations, I buy Christmas treats and napkins half-price, I make a huge urn of coffee, and I throw open my door to my friends and neighbors. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to celebrate the end of the Christmas Season. Everyone is happy, stress-free, and ready to socialize again. I always have Christmas cookies. I usually freeze the dough during December and bake the cookies fresh for the event. Some of my favorites are Italian anise cookies, which of course can be enjoyed at any time of the year. My Nana traditionally baked them at Christmas time, so these subtly flavored cookies carry an extra-sweet memory for me.
Nana’s Anise Cookies
Beat together 3 eggs, 5 TBSP vegetable oil
- Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 TSP anise extract, 1 TSP vanilla extract
- Mix thoroughly
- In a new bowl, mix 4 cups flour, 5 TSP baking powder
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients gradually, until the dough is firm but not too wet or sticky. Roll it into small balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Cool. Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze (I add some anise to this) and top with sprinkles.
- yields about 8 dozen small cookies.
Nana usually topped them with multi-colored sprinkles, so that says “Christmas” to me. Sometimes, she would put red sugar sprinkles on one half of the batch and green sugar sprinkles on the other half.
May you have a peaceful and joyful Christmas Season.