Holiday traditions: from baking to borscht

At Acorn Mag, we like to take advantage of the holidays to indulge in an obscene amount of baking—it’s just another welcome excuse to play with our food. This season, we enlisted the help of Toronto-based food stylist Miranda Keyes to take our seasonal desserts to new heights. With the creativity and nonchalance of a professional, she quickly piped chocolate trees to encircle a group of cakelettes—making for a dense cocoa forest—while voluptuous ganache, a fistful of scarlet pomegranate seeds and scads of icing sugar easily elevated a humble gingerbread bundt cake. Forget sugarplums — we can't get these whimsical desserts out of our heads.

While we share prolific baking as a timeworn holiday tradition, we also have our own unique familial traditions—those comforting rituals we always look forward to. We’ve collected a few of our favourites from friends and acquaintances to share with you below and would love to hear yours as well. Find us on social media (@acornmag on Instagram and Twitter; Acorn Mag on Facebook) and let us know your unique or unusual holiday customs.

“For as long as I can remember, cheese fondue has been the only option for Christmas Eve dinner in our house. Nothing beats melty cheese with baguette dipped in it.”

“About 10 years ago a cousin from the German side of our family went to Germany and brought the whole family back traditional Christmas pickle ornaments for our trees. Now, every year my dad sends the grandkids out of the room while he hides the Christmas pickle somewhere on the tree and the kids race to see who can find it first.”

“In our adulthood, the place we celebrate Christmas changes all the time, but we always seem to watch the six-hour version of Pride & Prejudice (with Colin Firth, obviously). It’s become a tradition for us that we just keep doing.”

“We read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ every single Christmas Eve! The whole family wears onesies, even Grandma."

“We follow all the Polish traditions. On the 24th, we eat dinner only when we can see the first star in the sky. For dinner we eat only fish dishes with sides of borscht, cabbage and pierogies and there are always 12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles. My grandmother makes pigwa, a Polish quince shot mix which we take with Spirytus vodka before dinner. And we always set an extra spot at the table so that if anyone comes and knocks on our door we can invite them to join us without making them feel like they’ve intruded. After a dessert made of noodles with poppy seeds, raisins and sugar. Finally we open the gifts. On Christmas Day, we traditionally eat a big breakfast of Polish deli meats: ham, kielbasa, bacon, sausage… fried up and served on a giant plate in the middle of the table, with finely grated beets and horseradish on the side.”