By this time of year, the Christmas machine is in full swing as people across Toronto count down the days until December 25th. However, winter is host to a number of different celebrations and festivities that deserve recognition too. Toronto is a thriving, multicultural community after all, so chances are your catering or restaurant services may be called upon for far more than a Christmas meal.
Kwanza is the youngest of the winter celebrations as the holiday only dates back to 1966 as part of the Black nationalist movement. Kwanza is a celebration of African heritage as it applies to African-American culture and encompasses the period from December 26 to January 1. Each day of Kwanza is named after a specific principle as described in Swahili. In order, they are: Umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work/responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economy), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith).
As a young festivity, Kwanza does not have the same level of staple foods as other holidays do. However, meals generally involve either African dishes or ingredients that were brought from Africa to North America. These can include spicy sauces, collard greens, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and so forth. Of additional importance are fruits, nuts, and vegetables since these represent the harvests that nourished people in Africa. Dishes that exhibit the colours of Kwanza—red, green, and black—are also appropriate.
Saint Lucy’s Day is part of the Christian Advent season and is celebrated on December 13th. It commemorates Saint Lucy, a third century saint who brought food to persecuted Christians as they hid in catacombs. The story goes that, in order to carry as much as possible, Saint Lucy wore a crown of candles to light her way. In Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, etc.), the celebration is particularly popular. It is tradition for schools and various bodies to elect a woman as Saint Lucy who then goes about bringing song, ginger cookies, and special saffron-infused baked buns (“St. Lucy Bun“) to members of the community.
Incidentally, the official Saint Lucy of Stockholm has an additional duty: bringing breakfast in bed to the winners of the Nobel Prize. This is done in traditional Lucia garb, which means many an unsuspecting Nobel laureate has awoken to find breakfast in bed being served by a woman in a white gown with flaming candles in her hair.
As expected of any new year celebration, the turning of the Chinese calendar is a significant series of festivities. It is a time to honor ancestors while also looking forward to the fortunes and well-wishes of the year to come. The exact date of the holiday varies since it follows the Chinese calendar and is dictated in part by when the new moon occurs—typically between January 21 and February 20. The next Chinese New Year will be celebrated on January 28, 2017.
A communal feast featuring meat, hot pots, and seafood is common among families, but there are no set standards for what is to be consumed. There are, however, certain ingredients that are believed to take precedence over others due to the symbolism they contain. Fish, for example, is either eaten or at least displayed somehow since the Chinese word for fish is pronounced the same way as the word for “surplus.” Mandarin oranges are also popular for a similar reason—certain southern dialects pronounce the fruit’s name the same way as the word for “luck.” Fertility is symbolized by foods like seeds, while prosperity and long life are marked by dishes like uncut noodles, jau gok dumplings, and a vegetarian dish called Buddha’s delight.
Caterers and restaurants in Toronto can benefit from embracing the different and vibrant cultures that make up our great city. Regardless of what wintertime celebration you are supporting, you can find the top ingredients and foods on our shelves. What makes MVR Cash & Carry the best choice for being your winter celebration supplier is that we are not open to the public. Our membership is reserved exclusively for business owners, and we have tailored our inventory to meet all of their professional needs. That means we offer the prices, volume, and top brands that every business wants.
Come by our Toronto warehouse store at any point from 7:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. and pick out the best festive brands for your business. If you have special requests or specific needs, feel free to look for any of our managers (or even the owner!) on the floor and we will be happy to do the utmost to satisfy your needs.