MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: Mariel Mendoza shows a "hallaca", a typical tamale from Venezuela - mix of maize (corn), chicken, pork and vegetables - on February 2nd, 2007 at the Tamale Latin American fair held in Mexico City. Several states of Mexico and some Latin American countries participate in the festival of the tamale - made with ground maize and sometimes meat or a sweet filling wrapped in a banana or maize leaf.  AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Why Venezuela's Hallaca Is Pretty Much Only Made During The Holidays
Christmas dinners around the world can look very different: the Japanese indulge in crispy Kentucky Fried Chicken, the English roast a Christmas goose, and Venezuelans eat hallacas. This dish is similar to tamales, except hallacas are stuffed with either pork or chicken, along with raisins, olives, capers, onions, and pimentos.
Like many other dishes that are only made around the holidays, hallacas are labor-intensive with a strong symbolic meaning. When Venezuela was a Spanish colony, the Spanish gave their leftover Christmas meal scraps to enslaved indigenous populations, who would wrap the scraps with cornmeal in banana leaves and boil the packages.
This is how the tradition of hallacas on Christmas originated, and it all begins with collecting fresh ingredients on Christmas morning, then folding them into the cornmeal dough before boiling them in banana leaves. The dish and the long process of making it are so synonymous with Christmas that it's kept as a holiday tradition.