When to Eat Shortbread: All Year Long
Did you know that there's a National Shortbread Day? There is. And it's celebrated on Jan. 6. (Mark your calendar) What might come as a surprise is that the holiday devoted to crumbly, buttery deliciousness was started in the United States, rather than in Scotland. But people all over the world now stop to have a nibble of shortbread, with a cup of tea, coffee, a glass of milk, or however they like to enjoy their treat. Shortbread goes well with wine and champagne or fruit and custard as well. As it happens, National Shortbread Day -- Jan. 6 -- coincides with the Feast of Epiphany in many Christian denominations, a day marking the revelation of Jesus' divinity at the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Shortbread has long been linked with the Christmas season. We can find reference in his collected letters to novelist Charles Dickens receiving shortbread (and haggis!) as a Christmas gift from a friend while in Edinburgh. Between Christmas and Jan. 6 there is, of course, New Years, or Hogmanay -- Scottish New Year's Day -- which is generally thought to be a perfect time to munch on some shortbread. In addition to being an ideal gift to anyone with taste buds, shortbread's associations of home resonate with those of Scottish descent around the world. It's been said that as Christmas approaches, enormous quantities of shortbread are prepared, packaged and sent from the homeland to exiled Scots in every corner of the globe. Everyone knows that baked goods have a special power to conjure decades-old memories of childhood comfort and familial good cheer. If the shortbread happens to come in a handsome thistle tin, or one adorned with a saltire or a cartoon of the Loch Ness monster, well it's all the more evocative. And we tend to think that shortbread season pretty much runs all year round.