Nasi lemak? Turkey Curry? What do Malaysians eat for Christmas?
DO you know which way the Christmas pudding is stirred for good luck? Or what should be eaten on each of the 12 days of Christmas to ensure good luck for the year ahead? Anyone?
The answers are clockwise and mince pies.
If those questions stumped you – understandable, given that the traditions are foreign to the majority of Malaysians – this next one will probably be a piece of cake, so to speak: What did Hagrid give Harry Potter for Christmas in his fourth year?
I can’t imagine them being very appetising to look at, but at wizard school, chocolate frogs seem to be the preferred treat and are often a reward for Hogwart’s pupils.
Roast turkey, of course, is the dish most associated with Christmas (and most supermarkets in Malaysian only stock the meat around this time of the year). When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin had their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all the trimmings. The first lunar landing didn’t happen on Dec 25 (or even in November when Thanksgiving is celebrated and turkey is also eaten) but that turkey meal was as American as the flag the astronauts planted on the moon.
Another common Christmas food is the fruit cake, which is also often used as a wedding cake. In 18th-century England, it was believed that unmarried wedding guests who put a slice of fruit cake under their pillow at night would dream of the person they were destined to marry.
In Japan, “Christmas Cake” is a euphemism for an unmarried woman, although it is only for one still unwed after the age of 25. That number seems like a very low cut-off point nowadays when people are increasingly marrying only in their 30s, but the term lives on. The origin of the word is from the Japanese tradition of buying a beautiful cake for Christmas and it is usually discarded the day after. An old maid is likened to that cake which looks good on Dec 25 but after that day, it is no longer as attractive.
We have our own traditions and food-related Christmas stories as well. Here are a few. – Jane F. Ragavan
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