How Different Societies or Cultures Celebrate with Sweets

5 minute read

How Different Societies or Cultures Celebrate with Sweets

Birthday parties, wedding feasts, baby showers, and cultural festivals—what do they all have in common? Well, they’re celebrations, of course, but they’re also prime places for sweets and chocolates to take centre stage.

Every society has its own way of making special celebrations, even sweeter ones, with confectionery. They’re part of the glue that keeps communities together and creates cherished memories of sweet treats from the past.

We’re exploring some of those traditions here, taking you on a culinary journey that explains the significance of sweet treats across India, the Middle East, Japan and more. Let’s dive in.

India: Diwali and Mithai

When autumn rolls around in India, the air buzzes with excitement for Diwali, the festival of lights. Stunning fireworks and the beautiful diyas, or oil lamps, are a given. But another underrated part of the festival is the selection of sweets and desserts that families and friends share as part of the celebration.

Mithai is the catch-all term for sweet treats, and India has grown sugarcane for thousands of years. Each sweet has its own story: take the laddoo, for example, a ball-shaped sweet made from gram flour, sugar, and ghee. Often infused with cardamom or saffron, it’s an ancient symbol of celebration.

Another popular dessert is barfi, a milk-based and dense sweet that’s often cut into diamond shapes or squares and topped with silver leaf. Kaju katli is another favourite made from cashew nuts and sugar; people of all ages love its velvety texture.

Every bite of mithai has a taste of India’s rich culture. These centuries-old traditions make Diwali one of the sweetest times of the year.

Middle East: Eid Desserts

There’s no doubt about it: Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is hard work. So when Eid rolls around, it’s time to celebrate with a lot of food. The result? There are thousands of delicious Eid dessert recipes for you to try.

One of the stars of Eid is baklava – layers of flaky pastry, nuts, and honey that’s a labour of love to make and a joy to share with the local community. Maamoul is another much-loved dessert - a tender, buttery biscuit filled with dates or nuts, with each shape signifying the filling inside. These are often made in large batches and shared with a crowd of friends and family.

Kunafa is another Eid staple with a delicious and unexpected contrast: a cheesy centre and crunchy base soaked in sweet syrup. And let’s not forget about qatayef, the sweet, stuffed pancakes synonymous with Ramadan and Eid. Whether filled with sweet cheese or nuts and then fried or baked, they're often drizzled with syrup or sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Like Diwali, Eid desserts are a cultural celebration that reflects joy and community. Each sweet has its own story to share. Are you looking forward to Eid celebrations soon? Appletons has everything you need to get the party started - find our Halal and sugar-free sweets online for your celebration.

Japan: Wagashi and Seasonal Festivals

In Japan, the changing seasons bring new scenery and a delightful variety of wagashi - traditional Japanese sweets that are beautifully decorated and lovingly prepared. Often served with green tea, these sweet treats are an art form in themselves.

Wagashi are closely tied to Japan's numerous seasonal festivals, each sweet reflecting the essence of the time of year. For example, you might find wagashi shaped like delicate sakura flowers during the cherry blossom season. Summer festivals like Tanabata bring citrus and mint-flavoured wagashi to the fore as a respite from Japan’s summer heat.

Autumn brings the rich, comforting flavours of sweet potatoes and chestnuts, often incorporated into wagashi that celebrate the harvest and the changing leaves. The Moon Viewing Festival is a special occasion in the Japanese calendar, marked with moon-shaped wagashi. As for winter, sweet red bean paste, wrapped in a layer of mochi to form a daifuku, offers some comfort in the colder months.

Wagashi are mini works of art celebrating the changing seasons and the deep connection with nature that is a part of Japan’s cultural identity. If you ever visit the country, look for these delightful sweets at street markets and shops.

Europe: Christmas Markets and Easter

In Europe, many city squares are transformed into bustling Christmas markets every winter, with millions of visitors yearly. With a steaming cup of mulled wine in hand, tourists are greeted with Stollen, a rich and hearty German Christmas bread filled with dried fruits, nuts and sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Italian Panettone is another mainstay of any Christmas market. These tall, dome-shaped cakes are stuffed with candied fruits, and raisins encased in a light sponge. Gingerbread biscuits are another popular sweet treat, often decorated with icing or marzipan.

As Easter approaches, Europe's sweet traditions take on a new life. In Spain, families are busy making Torrijas, a type of bread soaked in milk or wine, fried and then dipped in sugar or honey.

In the UK, Easter wouldn’t be complete without a hot cross bun, lightly spiced and studded with currants or raisins, marked with a cross on top. Served warm with lashings of butter, these simple buns are the ultimate symbol of the season in the UK. We wouldn’t say no to a cheeky chocolate Easter egg or two, either.

Christmas and Easter are two major holidays in Europe, so it’s no wonder there are so many delicious treats to match the occasion. Each with their own story and significance, they invite us to take part in the festivities and our shared culture.

Wrapping Up

From India's vibrant streets to Japan's serene beauty, each culture brings its unique flavour to the table. Every society has its way of celebrating through sweets and desserts, with the community bringing us all together to create fond memories over plates and bowls of confectionery.

As we embrace traditions, let's remember those seeking healthier alternatives. Our range of sugar-free sweets guarantees everyone can join in the fun without missing a beat. Check out our full online range today.
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