EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 13, 2013

Pork Pie: A Christmas tradition for many


Dede explains her Christmas tradition with pork pie:

“The French custom, as I remember from my childhood, was that tourtiere (pronounced took-kay) was served after attending midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The fasting rules for receiving communion at that time were very strict, leaving a long time with nothing to eat or drink before one received communion at Mass. By the time one returned home, many hungry hours had passed.

“We would leave our house around 11 p.m. in order to get a seat, because midnight Mass was always packed to the rafters in most churches. Of course part of the Christmas Eve night was arriving early to hear the choir sing beautiful Christmas carols before the Mass began, and thus “officially” starting Christmas Eve. Since the High Mass said on Christmas Eve usually lasted anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours (or more, after all the Merry Christmases were said), we were pretty hungry by the time all was said and done and we arrived home.

“After returning from midnight Mass, relatives would gather together at one home and there would be a feast of delicious foods. Several “took-kays” were always on the table prepared by different aunts and grandmothers. After eating all kinds of special holiday food, we would stay up and open our gifts, finally going to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

“Today, since Christmas Mass times have changed and are more frequent, many families choose to eat their “took-kay” in the morning for breakfast instead. This is the custom that my family has adopted. The aroma of the pie cooking in the oven early in the morning woke up the family in anticipation of starting a wonderful Christmas Day. Others like to take a tourtiere along to a Christmas dinner. No matter when it was eaten, tourtiere was always part of the French tradition in celebrating Christmas.

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