Holiday foods offer window into other cultures

Clare Sherman, Staff Writer

People from all around the world celebrate holidays differently depending on culture and tradition. Food is a popular way to show festivity and appreciate heritage, and considering the diversity at Tualatin High School, The Wolf  asked around about some cultural holiday foods students enjoy.

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival celebrating the recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple. This year Hanukkah starts on Dec. 18 and ends Dec. 26. Potato pancakes, or latkes, are meant to symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah, in which the oil of the menorah in the Second Temple of Jerusalem stayed lit for eight days and nights, even though there was only enough oil for one day. The symbol comes in the form of the oil that the latkes are fried in.

Sufganiyot, meaning sponge in English, are another popular delicacy eaten around the world on Hanukkah. These round, jelly-filled doughnuts have a similar story to the latkes: the oil they are fried in also represents the oil of the menorah.

Las Posadas is a novenario (novena), or an ancient Christian tradition, consisting of prayers repeated over nine consecutive days. It is celebrated by several Latin American countries and those descending from Latin America in the United States. Las Posadas typically lasts from Dec. 16 to Dec. 24 every year. On the evening of Dec. 16, families and friends dress up as people from the nativity scene.  In terms of cuisine, Las Posadas has plenty of delicious dishes that hold vast historical meaning.

Tamales are a year-round dish that have a special meaning when it comes to being served on Las Posadas. The making and serving of the dish in certain communities represents bringing together family and friends by assembling tons of tamales for the entire neighborhood.

Another widely-enjoyed food is Pozole, a Mexican stew that has  three main variations: Pozole rojo, verde and blanco. The dish is traditionally eaten at weddings, celebrations and in the winter. The soup’s protein can be either chicken or pork, but the main ingredient to really bring it all together is hominy, or dried maize kernels.

Senior Tiffany Dang is a Cultural Inclusive Representative (CIR) of TuHS. CIR is a part of the Advanced Business Procedures (ABP) class at  school. CIR members have done events like handing out fruit cups for Hispanic Heritage Month and giving people shirts and churros for Dia de los Muertos. Dang shared more about the club’s main goal.

“[We want] to bring awareness to all of the different holidays and different cultural events that are shared with students here at TuHS. We want students to not be afraid to share what or who they are,” Dang said.

Winter is commonly associated with Christmas through songs, stories and artwork, and is celebrated, to an extent, in nearly every country in the world. However, traditional American culture around this time can easily overshadow other celebrations or traditions, so what better way to learn about others’ cultural celebrations than through food?