Beth Siegalkoff

It’s National Cookie Exchange Day! It’s not too late to host a cookie exchange party of your own – text or email 6 to 8 of your friends or family who you want to take part in a sweet and delicious event.

The first form of a “cookie exchange” began during the Middle Ages. During this period, spices and dried exotic fruits were becoming increasingly popular in baked foods. Given their exoticism and price, families could only afford to bake cookies at Christmas time. They shared these special treats with family, friends and neighbors. Each family would bake batches of their special recipe, such as sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, snicker doodles or peanut butter cookies, plate them for each family attending an exchange party.

Like many Christmas traditions, the history of holiday cookies roots can be traced back to solstice rituals from eons ago.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, winter solstice festivals were actually celebrated all over the world, from Norway to Africa, Ireland and even as far as India. Typically celebrated as a way to acknowledge the changing of seasons, most of the ancient rituals revolved around food – gatherings, sorting, storing and even feasting, because winter was considered a time of famine. The weather and the terrain did not make it conducive to grow crops or hunt easily, so people gathered to prepare their larders for the winter and share the fruits of the last harvest with the community. Thus, the rudiments of the first cookie exchange began.

I haven’t been to a cookie exchange in years – although, my family does enjoy eating cookies, but they are just not good at sharing. So, I pretty much make cookies and keep them at home to entice my family to visit. They like sugar cookies the most, but for Christmas, I add Thumbprints, Russian Teacakes, my mother-in-law’s Peanut Butter cookies, Baklava and, of course, my daughter’s chocolate fudge.

So, it is three days before Christmas and only two days left to finish the baking, cooking, last minute gift buying, gift wrapping, etc., and don’t forget the stocking stuffers. I seem to leave the stockings to the last minute. But not this year, I think I am ready. Remember when we used to get fruit (an orange and an apple), a yo-yo, small toys, socks, a candy cane, and a handful of unwrapped hard candy in our stocking? We thought we were in hog heaven.

These days, stockings are filled with … Oh, No! I’m not saying because my family reads this column, and they can wait until Christmas to find out.

Recipe of the day: Sugar Cookies

Flower of the day: Poinsettias

From my home to yours: Wishing you and your family and friends a Blessed Christmas. Take care of each other and remember “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

Dates to remember:

Dec. 25 – Christmas

Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve

Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day

Jan. 3 – Students return to school

Until next year – Be strong, be courageous and make a memory.