People don’t usually ask why — it’s just the way it is: You have turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas.
The ham tradition has roots dating even further back than turkey. In fact, some say the holiday ham tradition began 2,000 years ago, when the Germanic people sacrificed boars as a tribute to the Norse god Freyr, who was associated with harvest, fertility and — you guessed it — boars. When the pagans were converted to Christianity, the ham feast became associated with St. Stephen, who is more known for his public stoning than anything having to do with pigs.
Ham, by the way, is pork that has been preserved through salting, smoking or wet curing. And it can be prepared in a variety of creative ways. If you’re feeling motivated, you can make slow cooker cider ham; baked ham with brown sugar glaze; plum sauce glazed ham; or black ham with honey mustard and apples. Or you can go with your traditional holiday glazed ham, as Paula Deen prepares in this recipe.
Ham is relatively quick to make (Deen’s recipe takes about two hours total), and it’s not as involved as turkey. So if you were to pick one up on Christmas Eve, you’d have plenty of time.
Pete Cramer of PC Cattle Company will offer both boneless (5 and 10 pounds) hams and ham shanks (10-15 pounds) at the Saturday farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo, located at the World Market and Embassy Suites parking lot (the market begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 10:45.) Cramer feeds his pigs mostly with leftovers from bakeries, Baba hummus, and barley grains from breweries.
As your glazing that ham, remember that this year Christmas Day features a couple of pro pigskin games on TV. Footballs aren’t really made of pigskin, but that’s probably another a story for another blog.