Aside from the traditional plate of cookies, some households planned to leave Santa gourmet surprises that would land most people on the naughty list at the local gym.
December 24, 2012 Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.
The oplatek, embossed with a Christmas scene, is shared among family members before Christmas Eve dinner.
December 24, 2012 Before Christmas Eve dinner, some families share the oplatek along with good wishes for each other. The tradition dates back hundreds of years: Back when bread was scarce, exchanging it with neighbors was a gesture of goodwill.
Tamales in Ofelio Crespo's home on Dec. 20.
December 24, 2012 Tamales are a holiday tradition for many Latinos. Some families will make their own. But others turn to tamaleros, tamale-makers who can churn out hundreds of tamales a week that taste even better than homemade.
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A retail store at the CambridgeSide Galleria mall in Cambridge, Mass., advertises holiday sale, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012.
December 24, 2012 With several things to worry about — including the possibility of automatic tax increases and spending cuts — it appears American consumers weren't in the cheeriest of holiday spirits on the last weekend before Christmas. Shoppers were out, but analysts say their spending was subdued.
Christmas chocolate and sweets on display at a Christmas market at Piazza Navona on Dec. 20 in Rome.
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
December 24, 2012 The Italian city isn't big on Christmas glitz and glamor. Instead, Rome saves its holiday shine for the dinner table. The Christmas day meal might start with lasagna before moving on to turkey or guinea hen. And it wouldn't be complete without plenty of sweets.
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December 22, 2012 Each Dec. 23, they descend upon Oaxaca's main plaza: giant root vegetables carved into human figures and other vivid forms. The Night of the Radishes is a major tourist draw these days, but it all started with Spanish missionaries in the 1500s. When a new religion and imported crops met indigenous woodcarvers, a novel art form was born.
The Claxton Bakery in Georgia makes millions of pounds of fruitcake each year.
December 12, 2012 Two bakeries in Claxton, Ga., make more than 4 million pounds of the holiday treat each year. The bakeries are finding a new market in young hikers and bikers seeking food that won't go bad on the trail.
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December 27, 2011 In Russia, New Year's reigns supreme as the food holiday, even though Christmas returned with the end of the Soviet Union. Russian immigrants in the United States continue the tradition, which demands a nightlong feast of herring, caviar, pickles, salami, and — well, that's just for starters.
A gift card display at a Target store in Mayfield Hts., Ohio., last month.
December 27, 2011 They're enormously popular — an estimated $27.8 billion worth have been given this holiday season. But many also never get fully used. What to do? Swap them. Regift them. Invest them. Or, perhaps, give them to charity.
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Many Americans are familiar with cornhusk-wrapped tamales. But those aren't my favorite.
Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images
December 24, 2011 Latin America has hundreds of interpretations of this Christmas Eve treat – tamales vary not just by country but often by region. So whose version is best? That's a question likely to elicit a fiercely partisan response.
December 23, 2011 The Two-Way will be back on Tuesday.
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Tourtiere is "one of Canada's better contributions to the culinary world," says Thomas Naylor, executive chef to the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.
December 23, 2011 This Christmas Eve, many French-Canadian families will gather after midnight Mass for reveillon, a lavish dinner party that lasts into the wee hours. The traditional centerpiece is a savory, spiced meat pie called tourtiere. Thomas Naylor, executive chef to the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., teaches Lynn Neary how to make this delicious holiday dish.
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Students show off the results of their trades.
December 23, 2011 And how seventh graders solved the problem.
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They'll see him when he's flying.
December 22, 2011 Assuming his elves haven't come up with some sort of stealth technology to cloak his movements, it's almost time again for children of all ages to follow the jolly guy's travels thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The pudding's dark glossy dome is flamed with brandy and carried to the table before the shimmering blue aura dies away.
December 21, 2011 My mother always made Christmas puddings. Nowadays, my sister and brother-in-law send me one every year from England. They use a mid-Victorian recipe handed down from a Quaker. Unlike other Christmas treats, a well-made, properly sealed Christmas pudding will keep for a year, or more.
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