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History of Christmas Desserts

posted by Racquel Heron in "Trivia & Social"
December 22, 2016


Christmas Desserts table

We are now deep into the holiday season and with that comes the magic of the season. At this time, many people are busy spending time with family and friends, enjoying holiday parties, shopping, wrapping and opening gifts. While all this is lovely, the best part of the holidays is the food. Turkey and ham dinners are delicious, but what we are really jonesing are the sweets that you can only get during the holiday season. Candy canes, Christmas pudding, eggnog, gingerbread, chocolate Yule log, and shortbread are staples of Christmas desserts and goodies we just could not live without during the holidays. What is the history behind each of these delicious goodies we have come to love so much?

Candy Canes

Candy Canes

If folklore is to be believed, in 1670 a choirmaster in Cologne, Germany, wanted to find a solution to decrease the noise created by children during the Living Creche tradition of Christmas Eve at his church. He visited the local candy maker to create sweet stick for the kids. To justify giving kids candy during the service, he asked the candy maker to add a curve to the top of each stick to remind the children of the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus. In 1844, a recipe for peppermint candy sticks, white with coloured stripes was published.

Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding and has several myths associated with it. One goes back to a custom in medieval England that believes “pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member should stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their journey in that direction.” It wasn’t until Eliza Acton with her bestselling 1845 book ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ did it get referred to as “Christmas Pudding”.  It is still very popular in UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.



Experts believe that eggnog may have developed from posset, a beverage from medieval Europe. It was made with hot milk that was curdled with wine or ale and flavoured with spices with some recipes used eggs.


gingerbread man

Gingerbread dates all the way back to the 13th Century, when German immigrants brought them to Sweden. The cookies were used to help digestion. It seems that many European nations still enjoy having a version of this delightful treat.

Chocolate Yule Log

Chocolate Yule log

The Yule log has the longest history of any of the goodies on this list, dating back to Europe’s Iron Age (800-240BC). People came together to celebrate the winter solstice by burning logs decorated with ivy, holly or pinecones and keep the ashes for medical benefits or to guard against evil. Over the years, hearths became smaller making it impractical to burn huge logs. However, the smaller hearth size was great for baking cakes, beginning the tradition of the Yule log cake.



Shortbread came from; medieval biscuit bread that was twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into hard, dry biscuits. Shortbread was considered expensive and reserved for special occasions such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve or weddings.

Santa cookies

It seems that our favourite Christmas desserts each have a long and interesting history. To find a more extensive background to these goodies search or go to

Hope your holidays are filled with many of these delicious desserts.

On-hold logo with Santa hat

On-Hold Marketing will be closed from 5pm on December 23rd until 9am on December 28th giving all our employees time to spend with their family and friends during this Christmas holiday season.

Seasons Greetings

Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas!


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