What’s the Deal With Christmas Cookies?

I should probably know this as an American. But I just don’t understand the whole Christmas cookies thing.

When I was five my mom revealed that Santa didn’t exist. She made me swear not to tell my Christmas-celebrating friends. Every time a friend mentioned Santa I would smirk, but play along. It’s not easy being a Jewish kid in a Christian world, but that little nugget of truth made me feel special during the red and green take over of December.

I like decorating trees. I like reindeer lawn scenes. I like eggnog. But I just don’t understand the cookie obsession this time of year.

Did it start with Santa’s present of milk and cookies?

Is it as an excuse to turn the oven on to warm a cold house?

I just don’t know. And would love to learn why.

(Photo: Greatest Time of the Year)

Myfanwy’s Way


As much as holidays are about celebration, they are also about tradition. I come from a very close family that values togetherness above all else this time of year and nothing puts me in the holiday mood as much as time with them.

I will never forget the Christmas Day blizzard where my cousin took a Jeep and picked up every family member so that even if we could not get home, we would spend Christmas Day together. But more, I will never forget the smell of plum pudding and white sauce. And I will never forget Welsh cookies.

My grandmother’s name was Myfanwy, and along with her Welsh heritage came many traditions, but none more important than her Welsh cookies. Generations of miners in Wales took these “cookies” with nutmeg and currants to work every day and that tradition continued when they came to Pennsylvania to work the large anthracite coal mines. They’re not made like traditional cookies and definitely don’t taste like them either, as they are cooked on a griddle like pancakes. The resulting cookie has a biscuit-like flavor and texture that combines the best characteristics of pancakes, shortbread and biscuits.

Welsh cookies have been called by other names—bakestones, Welsh cakes, griddle scones—and the ingredients are simple, but the process is tricky. While my grandmother had taught a slew of family members, it was my turn to learn a few years ago.

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