Date Night: O Tannenbaum

In northern Illinois, where I grew up, parents pack their kids in the car on early winter weekends and trek to the countryside to ride horse-drawn carriages and cut down a tree. It’s a chance for fathers to show off their skills with a saw, for brothers to play like manly lumberjacks and for big sisters to assert their urge to rule the roost by insisting the tree they picked has the best posture and most prominent peak on which to adorn with the family star. It’s a tradition so beloved that my childhood friends got married at the Williams Tree Farm where our family tree came from for at least two decades.

In Hungary baby Jesus {and patient mothers} brings the tree, all lit up, on December 24, while the children are out at the afternoon matinees with their Papas. It’s a subtle reminder that all good things come from above, not from a bearded man with a big round belly. {Sweet St. Mikulás [St. Nicholas] comes on December 6 with his evil companion Krampusz, to bring goodies to the good girls and boys, and viragács [a bundle of twigs] to the naughty ones}

In New York City, we buy our trees on the corner at pop-up tree farms created by French-Canadians who gladly spend weeks in the big city in exchange for the hefty prices we pay for their silver pines. It’s an admittedly less established tradition, but like everything in New York, it comes with its own set of magic and joy.

Our magic and joy came in a package only three-feet tall, but filled our tiny home with an embracing luminance that gave me the instinct to set a pretty table, etch our initials into tiny tree stumps and make a meal for two, starting a tradition all our own.

Our menu:
Pickled Turnips
Swiss and Avocado Omelets with Pea Shoots
Pomegranite and Meyer Lemon Spritzers
Hand-wrapped Chocolates

Now, if we only had something to put under the tree….

1 comment:

Liz said...

Thanks for sharing the traditions from Hungary. I love that. I hope you get everything you want under that tree!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.