By Kimberly Christenson

A little bit of holiday cheer goes a long way — especially when it’s in the form of food. Here are some holiday food traditions that have brought a smile
to these locals’ faces (and their bellies).



Chris Finken
Blog author of Burger Voice & Co-founder of Orange Soda
“My favorite holiday tradition is eating too many butter tarts with my family on Christmas Eve. Their raisiny sweet and juicy goodness possibly add five to 10 pounds to my winter frame every year. Brown sugar, eggs, butter, raisins, heavy cream, chopped walnuts and tart shells create the eatability. I remember being 7 or 8 years old and sneaking over to the butter tart tray all night long and eating them with my Grandpa Finken, who quietly laughed as I would make multiple visits and eat nearly all of the butter tarts on the trays while my cousins, aunts and uncles were busy opening presents. Every year, my family in Canada sends down a package or two filled with butter tarts and I still eat the majority of them before telling my wife or children what’s in the package. I look forward to butter tarts every year!”



Shirley Johnson Smith
Namesake of Shirley J

“A tradition my husband Don and I started after we got married involved a delicious Christmas breakfast of pork pie — a recipe from Don’s mother. It’s a family favorite that everyone loves and looks forward to. We’d wake up, open presents and then enjoy pork pie — it took care of breakfast and the family had fun. The great thing about pork pie is that you can make it ahead of time and just warm it up in the morning — and you know how it is on Christmas morning with children! What makes this pie so special besides the tender ground pork roast and the perfectly flaky pie crust is my chili sauce, which includes tomatoes, Granny Smith apples, onions, red peppers, cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pickling spice. Something about the combination of the two keeps everyone looking forward to the savory sweet aroma of Christmas morning.”



Colton Soelberg
Co-Founder of Pizzeria 712 in Orem and Communal in Provo
“Every Christmas, my grandma would make a sweet holiday rye bread with homemade mustard. Now, I carry on that tradition with my own family. We usually bake a ham for Christmas dinner, and the rye bread is perfect for leftover ham sandwiches. I remember my first time making the mustard and being amazed that I could make it on my own instead of having to buy it from the store.”




Marco “Moose” Thorson
BYU Football Offensive Lineman

“My mom is from Croatia, so she makes a lot of Croatian dishes that have become holiday traditions for our family. One thing she makes during the holidays is a salad with mashed up eggs and bacon and mayonnaise — not exactly a healthy salad, but it’s really good. She also makes a grilled filet mignon stuffed with prosciutto and cheese — it’s absolutely amazing.

Then, my dad always gets a giant tub and makes about a gallon and a half of milkshake for all of us to eat.”






Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Former “American Idol” Finalist

“Every year growing up, my mom would make homemade chicken broccoli soup on Christmas Eve. I loved walking into the kitchen and smelling the chicken boiling in the pot mixed with her delicious spices and vegetables. I always got so excited because I knew that once she started the soup, Christmas was officially on its way! I was usually the one to set the table, and I sometimes snuck a hot spoonful here and there while I put the finishing touches on the table. My dad would bring in some Sparkling Martinelli’s Apple Cider, and we would turn out all the lights and eat our dinner by candlelight. There was something so comforting and magical about that simple, yet traditional dinner my mom prepared. I’ve since learned how to prepare her special soup myself and have made it once or twice for my husband, but no matter how closely I follow the recipe, I can never get it to turn out quite like hers!”



Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at

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