Those of us who grew up celebrating Christmas in the United States all pretty much share the same memory. December 24 was an eve of buzzing anticipation for the biggest holiday of the year where we were all excited to go to bed on time, even though none of us actually fell asleep. Not right away anyway. The reality was we were wide awake, heart thumping, staring off at the ceiling with thoughts of all the toys we had strategically circled and dogeared from the Sears Catalog, hoping Santa Claus would overlook our few hiccups and grant our wishlist.
But just in case, as a little added insurance, we left something to sweeten the deal: A plateful of homemade cookies we personally assisted in baking. And the coup de resistance was either a nice, tall glass of milk or hot cocoa. Currying favor with Santa was never more blatant than Christmas Eve.
While a million dazzling thoughts danced in our heads that night before finally nodding off, there’s one question you may not have asked yourself: Why do we leave cookies for Santa anyway?
According to The Kitchn, the tradition may have begun centuries ago with the Feast of St. Nicholas:
“The Saint who is most often associated with Christmas, Nicholas was a third-century bishop known for being particularly generous to children and the downtrodden. The Dutch would hold a grand feast in his honor on December 6. Unable to stay up for the celebration, children would leave out treats for Saint Nick and other attendants who were surely weary after traveling a great distance to be there, awaking to discover their kindness had been exchanged for presents in the night. As the Protestant Reformation took hold of Europe, this ceremony was considered excessive, and in order to continue honoring St. Nicholas, the feast was delayed until Christmas, and the practice of leaving treats for travelers soon became the custom of leaving cookies for a Christian Santa Claus.”
In the United States, the tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa gained popularity during The Great Depression as a teachable moment. With so much financial suffering being experienced by families around the country, parents didn’t want their children to stop being charitable and thankful for what they did have, so they encouraged youngsters to engage in this Christmas Eve ritual.
While many children took the intention of this lesson to heart and left treats to express gratitude for the presents they would receive, the naughty kids certainly used it as an opportunity to bribe the jolly gift-giver into overlooking their yearlong transgressions.
Looking for a super easy, healthy, gluten-free cookie recipe you can make with your family that Santa will love? Then we have a Cappadona Ranch Christmas gift for you:
Cappadona Ranch Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies