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Alison Richards

The turkey sits in golden splendor on the carving board. The cranberry sauce glows in its cut glass bowl. There's a large dish of Brussels sprouts, shiny with butter; stuffing flecked with sage; and heaps of crispy roast potatoes. But this is not a Thanksgiving feast. There is no green bean casserole, no mac 'n cheese and not a yam in sight. We've crossed the Atlantic, and this is the traditional Christmas dinner that Brits will sit down to on Dec. 25.

A Halloween apple bob may seem as homespun as a hayride, but that shiny red apple has a steamy past. It was once a powerful symbol of fertility and immortality.

Apple bobbing and eating candy apples are "the fossilized remnants of beliefs that ultimately go back to prehistory," British apple expert and fruit historian, Joan Morgan, tells the Salt.

It turns out to be easier to find out when and where the original Olympic Games were held (776 BC, in Olympia, Greece) than to nail down the story behind National Cheesecake Day.

Yes, in case it had passed you by, today is National Cheesecake Day.

Any day now it will arrive stamped by the Royal Mail: a truly homemade Christmas pudding from my family in England.

My mother always made Christmas puddings. And before moving to the U.S., I would make two or three puddings every November, too. Now it's my sister and brother-in-law who keep up the tradition. They use a mid-Victorian recipe handed down to my brother-in-law's father by his mother, the former Miss Mortlock. She was a Quaker so these are teetotal puddings.

This is the month when the stately, voluptuous turkey takes a place of pride on most dinner tables. But when it comes to dessert, it's worth considering the relevance of another bird — the humble magpie.

That's because, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "pie" — defined as a baked dish topped with and sometimes also surrounded by pastry — may well derive from the Latin word pica, meaning magpie.