The holiday season is a time of sentimentality and traditions. Holidays are celebrated differently around the world and Christmas is no exception. Every culture and country celebrates it differently. Many cultures use this time to remember loved ones who have passed away, and many cultures have peculiar traditions from hanging socks on a fireplace to placing shoes outside to be filled with treats to throwing a shoe at a doorway to determine your marital status for the next year. This time of year also includes many food-related traditions. We’re going to share with you a Swedish Christmas Bread Braid recipe along with other foreign holiday traditions that are noteworthy.
- In Norway, all brooms are hidden on Christmas Eve so that they aren’t stolen by witches and evil spirits.
- Japanese families eat KFC on Christmas Eve.
- In Germany, it’s tradition to hide a pickle in the Christmas tree. The first child to find the pickle wins a prize.
- At the Christmas feast in Portugal, it is a time to remember the departed. Place settings are set out for souls of their late loved ones.
- In Italy, instead of Santa Claus, a friendly witch named Befana delivers toys and candy to children.
- In Canada, any letters addressed to Santa Claus or the North Pole are opened and replied to by the Canadian Post and volunteers. The official postal code is H0H 0H0.
- On Christmas Eve in Venezuela, it is custom to roller skate to church.
- South Africa celebrates their Christmas feast with fried caterpillars—it’s a delicacy.
- In Ukraine, instead of decorating a tree with ornaments, they decorate with spider webs. The tradition stems from a legend of a poor widower who couldn’t afford to decorate her tree. While she was sleeping, some friendly spiders spun silver and gold webs on her tree as decoration.
- The day after Christmas in the UK is called Boxing Day. It’s traditionally a day when employers give their employees a “Christmas Box” or present.
No matter how or what you celebrate, this Swedish bread is sure to please. It’s a yeast-based bread flavored with almond and cardamom. It’s the perfect side to any hot beverage or a great dessert to finish any holiday meal. Be sure to take a picture of your bread and post it with the tag #craftlakerecipe!
Swedish Christmas Bread Braid
1 ½ T. active dry yeast
1 c. warm milk
½ c. sugar
1 t. salt
⅔ c. melted butter
4 eggs, beaten
2 t. ground cardamom
1 T. almond extract
6 ½ c. all purpose flour
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. almond extract
2 T. milk
1/2 c. sliced almonds for garnish
- In a large mixing bowl combine melted butter, milk, 3 eggs, and yeast. Whisk together.
- Add sugar and salt, whisk until combined.
- Add almond extract, whisk until combined.
- Add flour and cardamom. Using a wooden spoon, stir slowly until fully combined.
- Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place for approximately one hour.
- Dump the dough on counter top, and divide into three equal sections. You may want to spread a little flour on the counter and your hands before rolling, as the dough should be a little wet. Roll out each section into a rope-like structure about 13” in length. (You can use a standard 9×13 pan to measure.) Braid the three ropes together.
- Place the braided dough on baking sheet, cover, and let rest for approximately one hour.
- Whisk together last egg, and brush over dough.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- While the bread is baking, make the glaze by whisking together almond extract, milk, and powdered sugar in medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Once the bread is out of the oven pour glaze over bread, no need for it to cool. It’s great served warm!
- Sprinkle almond over top.