Surbhi Sahni, pastry chef, Devi, New York City
I was raised Hindu in Delhi by a conservative Brahmin mother, but my father was very open-minded, so I went to a Catholic school and had many Indian Catholic friends. I loved that they celebrated Christmas very much the way we celebrated Diwali, the Festival of the Lights, with candles and fireworks. I'd sneak off to their houses and eat Christmas cake filled with candied fruit, being sure to hide the crumbs before I went home. One day my brother brought home a plastic Christmas tree—he was braver than I was. After that, we began to celebrate Christmas. I've made my friend's mom's Christmas cake from memory, adding dried figs because they're so delicious, and more of the warm, spicy ginger we love so much in India.

Recipe: Fig Cake