Food - Drink
The Symbolic Reason Chestnuts Are Eaten On Christmas
By AUTUMN SWIERS
From eggnog to sugar cookies, there are many treats that come to mind when we think of Christmas, but roasted chestnuts used to be one of the most popular snacks to ring in the holidays. In America, "roasting chestnuts over an open fire" mostly lives on in Christmas carols, but these nutty treats have a special historical significance.
Chestnuts represent the goodwill of Saint Martin, a transient Catholic saint who was drafted into the Italian army. According to legend, when Saint Martin was stationed in Rome, he cut his jacket in half to share with a fellow soldier in the cold season, and this act is celebrated on Martinstag, AKA the Feast of Saint Martin or Saint Martin's Day.
Chestnuts were traditionally handed out to revelers on Martinstag, and soon became a staple of the winter season. Roasting chestnuts for Christmas is still a cherished tradition for Italian families, and while the snack isn't as rampantly popular in the U.S. as candy canes or gingerbread, it symbolizes yuletide goodwill in a very special way.