With December coming in cold, that means that football season is sadly reaching its crescendo. The Baltimore Ravens have only two home games remaining in the 2022 regular season. That means that there could be only two opportunities left to tailgate until next August. With that in mind, it’s time to soak in the Festivus with a different type of “homegating” by partaking in a few Baltimore traditions.
If you’re a Ravens fan, there’s a good chance that Baltimore is home to you, right? There are two activities that signify the kickoff of holiday spirit in Baltimore. The first is the annual lighting of the Washington Monument. Located in the heart of Mount Vernon, Baltimore’s ode to George Washington was the first major monument in the U.S president’s honor. In the beginning of December each year, Baltimore celebrates with a night of caroling, food and a major red and green firework display.
The second, you can soak in the ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ For almost 70 years, the Miracle on 34th Street has been a Christmas tradition for Baltimore residents, as well as people from all over Maryland and the world. Residents on 34th street spend up to 12 weeks setting up for this month-long affair. The whole block bursts with light and can bring in over 1,000 visitors on a single evening. The whole neighborhood comes out to help, celebrate, and enjoy this spirited celebration.
While the timing doesn’t line up for a home game in Baltimore this year, you can time Fed Hill’s notorious ‘Santa Crawl’ around the away games and find your share of $4 holiday drinks including, but not limited to, apple pie bourbon shots, milk and cookie shots and candy cane shooters. The candy cane is a personal favorite, utilizing Smirnoff’s peppermint twist vodka, egg nog and brandy, which can be enjoyed responsibly. You can sign up for the Santa Crawl here.
On game day, you’ll see an array of purple Santa hats, and jolly red Solo cups filled with egg nog and a sprinkle of Old Bay. If egg nog isn’t up your alley, you can also try out a ‘Christmas Chesapeake Mule.’ You can even follow along at home by mixing as follows:
- 1.5 oz. vodka
- 0.5 oz. Lime juice
- 0.75 oz Spiced cranberry syrup
- 2 oz. Ginger beer
- 2 dashes Old Bay
It wouldn’t be a Ravens homegate without indulging in some variation of a Maryland blue crab dish accompanied by an oyster shooter. Seafood in general is a massive part of Baltimore’s culture. Baltimore sits at the point of the Chesapeake Bay, where 11,864 miles of shoreline run from Maryland through Virginia, which is more than the entire U.S. west coast. While crabs are the most iconic Maryland cuisine, don’t sleep on the Eastern oyster, one of the most iconic delicacies in the seafood world. At one point in the 1600s, the Eastern oyster was so abundant in the Chesapeake Bay, the oysters were filtering the entire bay once a week! Eastern oysters are mild, but meaty, with a low salt content. They pair extremely well with an American lager, or in the form of an oyster shooter!
Here’s one of my favorite oyster shooter recipes:
- 1 cup vodka
- 1/2 cup cocktail sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- Tabasco, to taste (I prefer a lot)
- Celery salt, to taste
- 8 small oysters, shucked
- 2 tsp. refrigerated horseradish
Shake all of the ingredients with ice then strain into shot glasses, drop the meat of the oyster into the glass, bite a lemon and send it!
Before we dive into cuisine, the final staple of Christmas in Baltimore is the cranberry orange crush. Orange crushes are a Maryland tradition. Originating at Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City, Md., crushes are undoubtedly one of the biggest staples of Chesapeake Bay territory. A common holiday twist is to incorporate cranberry for a seasonal and refreshing cocktail. You can try this one at home or if you’re joining the party when the Ravens take on the Atlanta Falcons at home on Christmas Eve! Here’s a fun recipe:
- 1.5 oz vodka
- 1.5 oz orange liqueur
- 2 whole limes, juiced
- 1/4 cup orange juice, fresh-squeezed
- 1/4 cup cranberry juice
- 1/2 cup lemon lime soda
Make sure to add crushed ice for the authentic Maryland effect.
While tailgating, you can expect to see your fair share of Berger Cookies, a fudge-topped Baltimore and Maryland dessert dating back to 1883. The DeBaufre classic is a staple of Baltimore, but if you want to try your own, you can find a recipe here.
This article would be pointless if not to mention Maryland’s most well-known delicacy and one of America’s biggest holiday traditions — the Maryland crab cake.
While opinions vary on crab cake recipes and consistencies, crab dip is another staple. Here’s this author’s favorite recipe
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons OLD BAY Classic Seafood Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Mustard
- 1 pound lump crabmeat
- 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Here’s the full recipe, essentially combine those ingredients and bake at 350 degrees! Then enjoy by spooning it onto some toasted and sliced French bread.
Now that you’re in on the Maryland traditions, it’s time to give them a try and put your own personal twist on them! Gingerbread? Candy canes? Let’s see what you’ve got. . .