Have you ever wondered where the Christmas traditions of stockings, presents, and cookies come from?
What about jolly, old Saint Nicholas? Who was he and why do we often call him Santa Claus?
Peter G. Rose, culinary historian of Dutch foodways in North America and author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats joins us to discuss the origins of Santa Claus and edible goodies such as cookies in the United States.
This episode originally posted as Episode 009.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
In this episode we explore the origins of Santa Claus and the important contributions 17th-century Dutch colonists made to North American culinary traditions with Peter G. Rose, author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats.
Peter takes us on an exploration through American culinary history and the festive traditions of Christmas and Santa Claus. She reveals which “American” foods have Dutch origins; Why the Dutch have long celebrated St. Nicholas’ Day; And, how Dutch St. Nicholas Day traditions evolved into the present-day American traditions of Christmas and Santa Claus.
What You’ll Discover
- How Peter became interested in the influence of Dutch culinary traditions in North America
- How cooking assisted her translation of the influential 17th-century Dutch cookbook De Verstandige Kock or The Sensible Cook
- What “American” foods have Dutch origins
- Why we should save our grandparents’ cookbooks and what they can tell us about our history
- How the North American environment influenced Dutch colonial cooking
- How Native American peoples, especially the Mohawks, influenced Dutch colonial cooking
- How the Dutch influenced Native American culinary traditions
- Who St. Nicholas was and what miracles he performed
- Why the Dutch in the Netherlands celebrated St. Nicholas
- How the Dutch in the Netherlands celebrated St. Nicholas
- What St. Nicholas Day traditions made their way to North America during the 17th century
- How and when the Dutch Sinterklaas became the American Santa Claus
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Peter G. Rose
- Historic Hudson Valley
- The New Netherland Institute
- The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World
- Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats
- Episode 035: Michael Lord, Historic Hudson Valley & Washington Irving
- Episode 121: Wim Klooster, The Dutch Moment in the 17th-Century Atlantic World
- Episode 161: Smuggling and the American Revolution
- Episode 185: Joyce Goodfriend, Early New York City and Its Culture
Time Warp Question
How might the Dutch have continued to influence North American foodways and culture if the Dutch had not returned New York to the English in 1674?
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