The History and Meaning of Sunday Dinner Tradition

A family eating dinner together

The History and Meaning of Sunday Dinner Tradition

We’ve all got used to our parent’s stories of the good old Sunday family dinners.
I can close my eyes now and I can clearly see Mom looking down smiling, before starting her speech: “It was Sunday morning. I’ve put on my best because we’re going to my grandparents’ after church for a sit-down meal of a crusty roast-something that grandpa carved perfectly at the table. The following ritual was to rush to the station wagon and driving up to the city for a hockey game. We knew that the Sunday dinner table was the only place and time where we could learn about the family, their experiences, hopes, ideas, jokes, and worries.

Always, always, always the meal was wonderfully special. Cooking all morning while the family was at church, the food was delicious, comforting and made with love.”

Even after my mother would finish her story, her face would glow. A shy smile stays pinned, while she drifts through her childhood memories.

I would sit back and wonder why I don’t have such memories? Why this significant tradition continuously dies out? Is our society so drastically changed that Sunday gatherings are at the point of no return?

The Sunday Roast

The Sunday Dinner originated as a British main meal served on Sundays (yes, you guessed it), usually consisting of roasted meat, roasted potatoes, and accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, bread, and mint sauce, gravy and vegetables.
Other vegetables, like cauliflower, would be served as cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, brussels sprouts, peas; carrots could also be found at the table.

This ritual is still dominating the British culture to such a degree that a UK poll showed that the Sunday Roast ranks second in a list of things people love about Britain. This meal could also be called Sunday lunch, full roast, roast dinner, and Sunday joint (here, “joint” is referring specifically to the joint of meat). The meal is often comparable to a less grand version of a traditional Christmas dinner.

This tradition can be seen as part of the culture of many English-speaking countries. For example, in the Republic of Ireland, roast dinner is a traditionally popular dish. The usual Irish Sunday roast consists of roast beef or chicken, potatoes (mashed and/or roast), carrots, green vegetables (such as peas, beans, or Brussels sprouts), and gravy. On the other hand, in South Africa, it is common to have rice with a Sunday roast.

Sunday Dinner Tradition - Then and Now

The Possibility

There is however a possibility to blow the dust off this tradition if played smart. We created a checklist for you to have a successful Sunday Dinner setup that would make people plan their next Sunday in advance.

  • The More the Merrier Doesn’t Apply Here
    Count the number of available seats and make sure whoever attends the dinner enjoys and comfortably fits at the table.
  • Keep the Serving Simple and Seasonal, but Make Sure You Have Plenty of Everything
  • Accept Help Offers
    People feel joy when they know they are helpful. Give them the pleasure and enjoy a bit of help.
  • Serve the Food Family Style, Buffet Style, or a Combination of Both.
    You could sit everyone down to a plated first course, then serve family-style platters, or enlist helpers to plate each course.
  • Have an Activity Available Before or After the Meal
    You can prepare board games, do crossword puzzles, take a walk, play croquet or bocce, watch a movie or just plain chat.

The Sunday Dinner Comeback

I’ve made a commitment to have at least one Sunday dinner per month. When you think about it, it’s the perfect way to entertain; long, lazy afternoons with your closest friends and family, gathered together around the table having a nice chat.
Imagine simple comfort food like roasts, braises, bone broth and casseroles. The gatherings are a community effort and a chance to decompress, just like an informal Saturday night dinner party. Sunday night is “school night,” so a hearty meal in the afternoon or early evening cover both lunch and dinner and lets everyone get home in time to prepare for the upcoming week. And just like back in the day, people get an opportunity to bring multiple generations of friends and family together around the table.

Consider hosting Sunday dinners on a regular basis. You’ll be surprised at how easily the idea catches on.

Get Started with Something Wholesome

Want to get cooking but not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we offer a number of warm hearty meals. If you’re craving the flavors of Grandma’s chicken soup, try our bone broth. This liquid gold has been used for centuries as a medicinal food. Today we are providing the same nutritious values but with a delicious natural flavor and smell that instantly brings back long-forgotten childhood memories.

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