Look How We Ate That! Did You Know We Share These Holiday Dishes Across The Diaspora?


When Nat King Cole opened his classic “Christmas Song” with the line “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” it was with good reason. Food and holiday festivities go hand in hand. 

As Black people in the 170 million+ strong diaspora (defined as people of African descent living outside of Africa), many of the foods we now enjoy are a product of our shared West and Central African heritage. Voluntary immigrants from Africa are included in this community and currently comprise 2.1 million people in the United States alone, but the majority of Black people in the diaspora are descendants of the enslaved.

While our ancestors were forcibly separated from the African continent, their connection with the land remained through their culture and cooking traditions. Once scattered throughout the Americas, they combined those traditions with the products available to them on the continent and improvised new variations of foods provided to them by their European enslavers. The results are rich, vibrant dishes that, while called different things, are enjoyed across the diaspora during the holidays. Here are just some examples:





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