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Top Eastern European Christmas Cookie Recipes

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It seems everyone pulls out the stops for Christmas, the second most-important Christian holiday in Eastern Europe after Easter. Christmas is another opportunity to feast after a fasting period. In this case, Advent. But not only is feasting part of the festivities, visiting and entertaining hordes of friends and family are mandatory. And no Eastern European is welcomed into the home without a toast to one's health (whether with vodka or mulled wine or fruit cordials) and, at the very least, tea or coffee with sweets, if not a full-blown meal. Honeybreads and gingerbreads are the overwhelming favorites among the countries, some highly decorated, but butter cookies with sprinkles are not unknown. Well, see for yourself, below.

1. Bulgarian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Bulgarian Jam-Filled Christmas Cookies or Maslenki
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Bulgarian jam-filled cookies known as maslenki are popular for Christmas. They are traditionally made with lard, but butter will do! When rose-flavored Turkish delight or lokum is chopped and mixed into the dough, they are known as lokumki.

The dough for Bulgarian honey-spice cookies or medenki is typically rolled out and cut into fanciful shapes. When the dough is shaped into ovals or pushed into walnut-shaped molds, and then sandwiched together with rosehip jam and dipped in melted chocolate and nuts, they become Bulgarian acorn cookies.

Here are more Bulgarian Christmas traditions.

2. Croatian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Croatian Licitar Cookies Hanging on a Christmas Tree
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This wonderful video shows how Croatian heart-shaped licitars are made. But licitars are also made into doll, bird, mushroom, horseshoe, wreath and horse shapes, among others.

Croatian Fritters or Fritule and Croatian Angel Wings or Krostule are often served for major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Croatian Quince Candy or Kotonjata is another favorite at Christmas time. Prepared at the end of the growing season, the candy is prepared and stored with laurel leaves (bay leaves) until Christmas.

And, because they are somewhat time consuming to make, Croatian Peach cookies or Breskvice are saved for special occasions like holidays, weddings and christenings.

Here are more Croatian Christmas traditions.

3. Czech Christmas Cookie Recipes

Czech Karlsbad Ring Cookies
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, signals the beginning of Christmas baking for many Czechs. Out come all the time-honored recipes for both labor-intensive and easy no-bake cookies, and sweets known as vánoční cukrový (vah-NAWTCH-nee tsoo-KRAW-vee). This is an all-inclusive list that can consist of cookies, dainty tarts, candies and more. It conjures the image of sugar plums dancing in one's head. Here are more Czech Christmas traditions.

4. Hungarian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Hungarian Non Plus Ultra Cookies
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Like Croatians, Hungarians favor intricately decorated honeybread or honey cookies, nuthorns known as kifli or roszke, kolacky similar to Polish kołaczki, shortbread cookies known as omlos teasutemeny, and spice cookies to serve at Christmas. But Hungarian Non Plus Ultra Cookies, another one of those time-consuming cookies that is reserved for very special occasions, is one of the prettiest cookies and is considered an apro tea sűtemény or "tiny tea cake." Here are more Hungarian Christmas traditions.

5. Lithuanian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Lithuanian Poppyseed Cookies
© Happy Homebaker on Flickr
Lithuanian Poppyseed Cookies or Aguonu Sausainiukai are popular year-round, but poppyseeds are especially important for Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's because all the little seeds symbolize fertility and wealth. Angel wings or ausukai like chrusciki are popular, too. But probably the most popular is the grybai or mushroom-shaped spice cookie. They're a little labor intensive but a time-honored tradition. Here are more Lithuanian Christmas traditions.

6. Polish Christmas Cookie Recipes

Polish Almond Cookies or Amaretti
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
All the stops are pulled out with Polish Christmas cookies. Here are 16 recipes to choose from and these are by no means the only ones served at Christmas time. As you might expect, traditions vary from region to region and family to family. Here are more Polish Christmas traditions.

7. Romanian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Salami Cookie
© foodchronicles on Flickr.
In Romania, the Christmas meal is sweetened with cozonac and Turkish delight known as rahat or lokum. As for cookies, Salam de Biscuiti, or unbaked cookies made to look like slices of salami, are popular at Christmas time. Many other Eastern Europeans make this treat. Here are more Romanian Christmas traditions.

8. Russian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Russian Tula Pryaniki
© Cookie mold cookies on Flickr.
The most popular Russian Christmas cookies are pryaniki. These spice cookies originated in Tula, not far from Moscow. The elegant ones from Tula are stamped with a wooden press producing an embossed surface. The home variety is a thick, simple cookie with white frosting. Today, they are most often served with tea, but in days past, they were exchanged as tokens of love and respect at weddings, christenings and holidays. Commercially prepared pryaniki are made with sweet centers including condensed milk, chocolate and strawberries. Khrustiki, which are similar to Polish chrusciki also known as faworki, and Croatian krostule, also are seen at holiday times. Here are more Russian Christmas traditions.

9. Serbian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Balkan Nut Kifle
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Serbians have a rich dessert history with tortes, nut rolls, strudels and more. As far as cookies go, kifle have to be the most popular for Christmas. Here are more Serbian Christmas traditions.

10. Slovak Christmas Cookie Recipes

Slovak Heart Cookies
© Viola Wang on Flickr.
Christmas cookie hearts known as Srdiečka are the most popular treats in the Slovak Republic. They're similar to linzer cookies that are sandwiched with a little raspberry, red currant or strawberry jam. Here are more Slovak Christmas traditions.

11. Slovenian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Angel Wings
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Nut horns, angel wings and many of the same cookies enjoyed by Croatians, Hungarians, Austrians and even Italians are enjoyed by Slovenians. Spiced biscuits known as Bozicni Skofjeloski Kruhki are the most popular at Christmas time. Here are more Slovenian Christma traditions.

12. Ukrainian Christmas Cookie Recipes

Gingerbread St. Nicholas Cookies
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Ukrainian Christmas Honey Cookies known as medianyky (which are similar to Bulgarian medenki) can be rolled out and cut into rounds, stars, crescents or other shapes and are often hung near the bottom of the Christmnas tree as treats for the younger children who can't reach the higher branches. Honey cookies or sugar cookies are often cut with Byzantie bishop cookie cutters. Here are more Ukrainian Christmas traditions.
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