Like most kids, when I was younger, I thought Christmas was magical. The lights, the decorations, the family celebrations and, of course, the presents. Everything about the holiday felt special to me.

Now that I’m older, it’s hard not to get nostalgic when I think about those magical moments from my childhood but I have to say, one of my most vivid memories was the tradition of “milk and cookies.”

To ensure that Santa made a stop at our house, every Christmas Eve my siblings and I would put a plate of our grandma’s homemade sugar cookies (which were the best cookies EVER) and a big glass of milk on the table by the Christmas tree.

In the morning, when we saw that the cookies were gone and the glass was empty, we would scream “Santa was here, Santa was here!” Of course when we saw the presents under the tree, we knew without a doubt that Santa had been to our house! Sound familiar?

It’s no surprise that children around the world have been honoring this well-established tradition for many years but have you ever wondered how it got started?

Well it seems that nobody knows for sure, but there a few theories that offer some explanations.

One of the most popular theories is that leaving milk and cookies for Santa originated as an American holiday tradition during the Great Depression. During this time of economic hardship, parents used this tradition to teach their children to give to others and show their gratitude for the gifts that they receive at Christmas.

Another theory is the feast of Saint Nicholas. Every year on December 6th, Dutch immigrants held a celebration to honor Saint Nicholas. Because the children could not stay up for the event, they left sweet treats for Saint Nick and when they woke the next morning, they were rewarded with gifts.

Over the years, different countries and regions have developed different versions of the milk and cookies tradition.

In Sweden, kids leave rice porridge. In Australia and Britain, they leave mincemeat pies and sherry. Children in France leave out a glass of wine and fill their shoes with carrots, hay and other treats for the reindeer.

And in Ireland, kids leave a plate of cookies and, instead of milk, Santa gets a pint of Guinness!  Hopefully one of Santa’s elves is driving the sleigh after that stop!

While I continue to have fond memories of this infamous tradition, this year I will be spending Christmas Eve with my mom and I thought it would be fun to start a new tradition and make my version of “milk and cookies.”

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing quite like a cozy beverage to warm you up on the inside so our “milk” will be a hot cup of golden milk.

Golden milk is my favorite beverage to drink in the winter. It’s creamy and delicious and loaded with health benefits. I think it will be just what we need to stay warm all night long.

If you have not tried golden milk, I highly recommend this recipe by the green creator. It’s one of my favorites.

Everyone knows you can’t have milk without cookies so for our “cookies,” I’ll be making some of my Longevity Snowballs. After eating a few of these immune boosting bites, I know my mom and I will be feeling pretty jolly….just saying!

Christmas is undoubtedly a very special time of year and despite our best efforts to savor every moment, we are often surprised by how quickly the season arrives and then passes us by.

Perhaps this year, as we enjoy our old (and new) holiday traditions, let’s remember to savor the moments that will become our treasured memories. Let’s savor the warmth in our hearts, the joy of selfless giving and most importantly, savor the people we love and care about.

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday,

Denise Steffen
Certified Health Coach
A Passion for Health

Longevity Snowballs

1/2 cup dried mulberries
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup walnuts, ground
2 tbsp. cacao or carob powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. nut butter
1 tbsp. honey or sweetener of choice
1 tbsp. unflavored protein powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (see Notes)

1. In a food processor, grind the almonds and the walnuts into a powder.
2. Add the mulberries, cacao or carob powder, coconut oil, nut butter, honey and protein powder.
3. Puree until you get a paste. Use a teaspoon or melon baller to grab the paste and shape into balls. Roll the balls in the shredded coconut flakes.
4. Place the balls on a plate and let them set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

* If you cannot find mulberries, you can use dates.
* If you don’t like coconut, you can use hemp seeds.