After the gifts have been exchanged and the kids have worn themselves out on  new toys, the next biggest activity on Christmas Day centers around eating. 

What people choose to prepare on Christmas dinner table often reflects traditions passed down through generations, even though most of us might be unaware.

Today, Americans largely stick with turkey and ham with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, maybe some spinach or other green vegetable. And don’t forget about the pie and ice cream.

The reasons for such a meal come from traditions dating back to Medieval times when nearing the dead of winter on a farm meant root vegetables and game meat were about the only option.

Like our customs today, the holiday meal in the 16th century was also a time to gather with family around an abundance of good food. Only their gorge-fest lasted 12 entire days. Talk about a belt-loosener.

Here are 6 things you probably didn’t know about Christmas dinner traditions:

Photo credit: Dreamstime