New Report Shows 81% Of People Say Tradition Is Key To A Happy Holiday Meal

When it comes to holidays and holiday traditions, some people feel a bit stressed. While there are things we all dread (per Consumer Reports), for many of us, this is still the most wonderful time of the year, and a majority of American adults surveyed say they wished the holidays lasted longer, according to The New York Post. In particular, most Americans (53%) really do relish the opportunity to celebrate over a shared meal, according to a recent survey by the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).

It's clear that whatever winter holidays people are celebrating, food is a big part of the festivities and certain spices and flavors — especially cinnamon, pumpkin, and peppermint — are particularly nostalgic. What may come as a surprise is just how important culture and traditions are to these gatherings. According to the CFANS study, a whopping 81% of Americans consider culture and heritage an important part of holiday meals. Johan B. Ubbink of the University of Minnesota interpreted these findings in CFANS's YouTube video, noting "Food customs and culture are important because it tells you something about yourself ... it really helps you remain connected to your roots." It's particularly important for one group of the population.

Traditions are important to the younger generation

Interestingly, the group who gave the highest importance to culture and heritage was Gen Z, with 86% saying culture and heritage were an essential part of the mix. Members of Gen Z also reported a 70% likelihood of introducing new foods into the mix, suggesting that tradition and innovation go hand in hand for many, which makes a lot of sense, given the importance of connecting food and personal values for Gen Z (via Upserve).

As Johan B. Ubbink explained, "Gen Z is more diverse than any of the previous generations, and that is evident in their food preferences. Growing up, they've been exposed to a variety of cultures and cuisines, making them more adventurous and interested in experimenting with new foods and flavors" (via CFANS). Traditional foods are mediators between generations, helping to establish connections between people and their loved ones, both living and deceased. Ubbink noted, "You build relationships over food."

While Gen Z is open to many different food traditions and cultures, there is one they're not interested in. The butt of every holiday food joke, dearly loved by a few but rejected by most, we give you the fruitcake. Gen Z takes the cake when it comes to fruitcake hate (per CFANS). Only 18% of all Americans report loving the seasonal treat, but a determined 40% of Gen Z hates it. Guess that's one family recipe that won't be getting a lot of holiday play.