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Eater’s holiday banquet celebrates the food traditions we return to in memory, time and time again

Attend any random potluck between November and February and it becomes immediately clear: There is no one way to eat around the holidays. Whether it’s chickpea fritters and brightly colored sweets for Diwali, latkes and gelt for Hanukkah, Christmas tamales or Chinese apples, or black eyed peas for the New Year — the range in our celebratory foodstuffs is truly planetary in scope. And yet, whatever the variations in flavor and form (casseroles, fritters, and dumplings, oh my!) what unites these dishes is their ability to transcend mealtimes, seeping into our deepest emotions and memories like a pat of butter on a pile of mashed potatoes. This week, through a collection of reported essays, we examine the many, motley ways we humans have come to link food with meaning throughout these northern winter months. Because no matter how cold and dark it might get, you can always find some light at the table.