Please don’t let these die out! Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas has been that special time in which age-old traditions take centre stage, but as time goes by, many of these are being lost.
There is something so nostalgic about placing those little pasturini into their assigned papiermâché cave. It’s part and parcel of the Maltese Christmas – a tradition loved as much as the singing of carols and Midnight Mass. Nowadays, fewer homes have these, yet while it doesn’t really make sense for someone who is not a Christian to set one up, I have to admit that they are just so lovely!
The Christmas Log
Never mind your Christmas pudding, people of Britain, for nothing beats our delicious Christmas Log… even though we technically stole it from you but, yes. To make sure we preserve the most elaborately decorated Christmas speciality there is, here’s the recipe:
1. Crush two packets of plain biscuits and then mix them with one large tin of condensed milk, 100g of glace cherries, 100g of walnuts, 100g candied peel, 150g of crushed hazelnuts and almonds, and a good swig of brandy.
2. Shape mixture into the shape of a log – or as my mother puts it, a giant edible turd – and refrigerate for 12 hours.
3. Melt 100g of milk chocolate in a bain marie – NOT in the microwave – and cover the log.
4. Decorate till kingdom come.
Made by cooking chestnuts in cocoa (I mean, if that doesn’t make you salivate, nothing will), l-imbuljuta is one of those traditions that truly warms the cockles of any cold heart, and it’s so easy to make!
1. Wash 400g of dried chestnuts in water two to three times, changing the water each time. Leave to soak in a large bowl overnight.
2. Peel the chestnuts, place them in a pan along with the water you left them in overnight, and add 175g of sugar, 50g dark chocolate, 50g drinking chocolate, one grated rind of an orange, the peel of one tangerine, mixed spice and ground clove.
3. Bring to the boil and lower heat. Leave to cook for 50 minutes.
Voila, the perfect winter warmer. I like serving mine in fine bone china cups, complete with saucer and silver spoons, because every recipe needs that Evelyn edge.
I never sent my son to Mużew because I’ve always believed that he would make his own choice of religion. So far, thankfully, he hasn’t chosen to become a Pastafarian. Having said that, it would’ve been lovely to see him take part in a purċissjoni tal-Bambin. I’m not the most religious of people, but it’s important to remember what Christmas is all about. And no, I don’t mean Baby Jesus. I mean all that Baby Jesus is meant to represent – charity, good will, forgiveness, new beginnings and love.
Going Out on Christmas Eve
I’m obviously not of the generation of people going out on Christmas Eve. I sometimes go to Midnight Mass and always go to Christmas Breakfast at a hotel, but I really find nothing wrong with my friends’ children going clubbing on Christmas Eve. Traditions and life aren’t changing. They’re evolving, and at a time when friends are akin to family, youngsters spend time together in a place that feels familiar to them. They don’t have a home of their own were to congregate, so they choose the next best thing.
Are there any Christmas traditions you’d like to share with our readers?
You’ve heard Evelyn’s drill. Let us know in the comments section below.