What is brown, slightly sticky with red and green and shades of nut all over? Christmas cake! and in our house, this is a very important and well loved tradition. Okay, when I say very important and well loved perhaps I mean by those of a certain generation. The making of Christmas cake (or fruitcake as it is known to some) is serious business and takes quite a bit of time (6 weeks or more), effort and resources. Ours is made rectangular, dark and moist, although it can be made round, lighter and much more dry. I had a sample of a very light tan Christmas cake recently and it was surprisingly good!, but I digress.
Christmas cake is actually a traditional food with roots possibly dating as far back as the 1500s. According to the History of Christmas Cake as posted on the Just Love Christmas.co.uk website, Christmas cake was derived from the combination of plum porridge and Twelfth Night Cake with spices and dried fruit being added over time. It appears that regardless of its roots fruitcake is served in its many variations across most of the world with one notable exception. If you are not a huge fan of traditional Christmas Cake, perhaps this year try a new tradition; Japanese Christmas Cake. Japanese Christmas Cake with links to American influence and affluence is a sponge cake topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries (Japan Centre.com). Sounds delicious.
Much like the preparation and effort put into traditional Christmas Cake, so too would have been the preparation of a certain group of astrologers or Wise Men many years ago. Tradition states that as they studied the skies they noticed a particularly bright star which they attributed to the birth of a king. They packed up their bags and headed out towards the star. I can imagine that it would have taken weeks to prepare for their journey (much like it takes weeks to prepare our delicious Christmas Cake). They may have pack staples like dried fruits and nuts for nourishment as their journey would be long. We do know that they brought gifts of gold, and the aromatic resins frankincense and myrrh. The spices in our traditional Christmas Cake can act as a reminder of those aromatics.
As we take time to prepare for the season, I invite you to reflect on the aspects or parts of Christmas that bind together to create the “most wonderful time of the year.”
. . . wise men from the East come to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
Matthew 2:1-2 (KJV)
Oh, and if you decide the try the Japanese Christmas Cake, let me know how it goes!