Maybe you recall getting an orange in your stocking at Christmas time?  As a little girl, I recall getting oranges from Santa at the little country church that my mom grew up in and my grandparents still attended, but I confess to always thinking it a little odd.

Food historians trace the practice of offering fresh fruit gifts for major celebrations to ancient times. These perishable objects were expensive and reflected the giver’s wealth and status. Indeed, before the age of speedy transportation and reliable refrigeration, fresh citrus fruit was out of reach of the average person. As time progressed, fresh fruit out of season (including oranges in Northern Europe and/or North America) was possible, but still rare. This made these items perfect Christmas gifts.

orangesToday, when oranges are inexpensive and readily available throughout the year, this little history tidbit is overlooked. A child today who encounters an orange at the toe of his Christmas stocking is unlikely to appreciate the message unless someone takes
the time to share the history.

Consider giving your child an orange for the holidays this year and share the history of Christmas with him.  Or celebrate by enjoying this festive, orangey dish:

4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar and pecans. Make a well in the center and pour in the orange juice concentrate, corn syrup and melted butter. Mix well by hand until dough forms. Roll into 1 inch balls and roll the balls in confectioners’ sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Put a sheet of waxed paper between layers to prevent sticking.

Most of the domestic orange supply is grown in Florida or California.  Are you making a family vacation to Disney this summer?  Schedule in a visit to an orange farm!  Your kids deserve to know where their food comes from.

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