Holiday Traditions – The Third Sunday of Advent

The week between the second and third Sunday of Advent is mostly reserved for baking cookies. It’s become a tradition to bake and share Christmas cookies with family, friends, and acquaintances.

In the December 1996 issue of the Good Housekeeping magazine, my Mom tried out a recipe that became a family favorite and the most-liked by everyone who receives them as a gift. For a while, I wanted to keep the recipe for Chocolate Sambuca Cookies a secret but finally translated it to German and converted the US measures to metric. These cookies are the first to be mixed up as they need to be chilled overnight.

Next, I fix two recipes of Kokosmakronen (Coconut Macaroons), a recipe I received from a Luxembourgish friend many years ago. These are quickly whipped up and need to be watched when baking as they should begin to brown but not be allowed to dry out. The secret ingredient is marzipan which makes them chewy instead of hard like meringue cookies. The half a dozen leftover egg yolks are perfect for making Mom’s recipe for ice cream.

When we married in 1978 my mother-in-law gave me a cookie press. It was only when I tried the recipe for Spritz cookies in my 1976 edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I finally began using it each year. I had a “feeling old” moment when I looked up the book on the internet and found it referred to as vintage! 1976 was the year I graduated from high school. The recipe makes a lot of cookie dough for pressing. One year I tried adding a cherry on top of half the cookies. This was a big hit with my husband and I’ve added the cherries to the macaroons too.

A few years ago I tasted these orange-flavored biscuits sold at a well-known coffee shop associated with Mr. Clooney. They were delicious but, I thought, too expensive. I experimented with the Spritz recipe, leaving out the almond extract and adding orange extract and peel. To add more flavor I brushed them with orange glaze and called them Glazed Orange Spritz.

Chili Chocolate Chip Cookies are another favorite in the tins we gift. Several years ago I found a free sample of Vanilla Chili Salt in a German cooking magazine. The recipe for the cookies was on the back of the little packet and the sample was just enough for one recipe. The supermarket we shop at carries the label but didn’t have this particular salt mixture. I ended up mixing my own version of the vanilla chili salt. Later when I was able to buy the flavored salt I had to add more chili as either they had changed their recipe or we had gotten used to the more hot taste of my salt mixture.

After two full days of baking, the cookies were ready to be packed up in the Christmas tins to give away. There were not enough left over to fill the small bags of cookies for our postman and the trash collectors so I’m off to do more baking.

May the peace of Advent be with you and your families.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

24 thoughts on “Holiday Traditions – The Third Sunday of Advent”

      1. No, but I hope people will follow my example. My Mom actually started this when we first came to Luxembourg back in 1975. I remember delivering plates of cookies with her during the holidays. At 83 she still bakes them for us although when I talked to her yesterday she said she didn’t think she felt up to it. The ones she makes are a lot more work than mine.

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      2. Well, it’s pretty funny. I was just talking to a friend of mine, and she said she had to get off the phone to deliver cookies to neighbors. I said, “Is that because it’s Advent?” She was puzzled (partly because she’s Jewish—but I thought she might be reciprocating for some non-Jewish friends of hers), so I told her I just learned of this Advent tradition! So perhaps you WILL start a new international tradition!

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  1. Love hearing about your family and some of your traditions Cathy! Your cookies look delicious!

    Here in Minnesota, kind of the unofficial Baking Capital of the US because of our long history of many flour mills and major food companies like General Mills, it’s very common to bake Christmas cookies and share them with co-workers, neighbors & friends, and family. Those who are really serious about their Christmas cookie baking, usually begin baking in late October or early November so they can freeze batches of cookies and continue baking more varieties as the weeks go by. Then you pull them out of the freezer to thaw and give away or eat. We don’t freeze frosted cookies though. These must be frozen without the frosting and finished after they thaw later.

    Another popular tradition that grew out of Christmas cookie baking here is the “Cookie Exchange”. Friends/Family invite a few people to meet at their home. They are told to bring several dozen (usually 3 dozen) of maybe 2-3 varieties of cookies. When they arrive with their already baked and decorated cookies, everyone organizes all their cookies on a large table sorted by variety. Then each participant can go along the table of cookies and take a few of each kind to build a nice box/container of cookies to take home. This allows each participant to have the fun of baking cookies and also be able to provide a larger variety of cookies to their own family & friends. Some families even make a fun day of baking the cookies with generations of family all in the one kitchen baking all day. We even have local churches where the ladies bake hundreds of cookies and invite the community to come buy trays of them as Christmas fundraisers. Making cookies & home-made candies such as fudge and chocolate bark are a tradition here that keeps family memories alive as we pass down recipes, techniques, and the stories behind the cookies!

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