Every country has different Christmas food traditions. We will present to you some of the meals that are preparing for Christmas in some countries.
When it comes to the winter holidays, food traditions are an important part of the celebrations in countries around the world, even if the foods are different from country to country.
You might indulge in mince pies, or perhaps ham is more your style. For others, a holiday meal wouldn’t be complete without fried chicken, fruit cake or salted cod. Depending on where you grew up, and where you live now, the seasonal delicacies that grace your table may be sweet, savory, or a little bit of everything in-between.
Let’s take a look at different Christmas and Hanukkah food traditions around the world.
1. Christmas Food Tradition – (Japan) – Fried Chicken
In Japan, the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year for Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC, a fast-food chain. Because about 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC on Christmas Eve, they often need to reserve their meal up to two months in advance.
2. Christmas Food Tradition – (Lithuania) – Kūčios
Kūčios, the traditional Lithuanian Christmas dinner, is held on December 24th every year. And hosting kūčios is no small feat – this meal can take up to a week to prepare. For Lithuanians, the holidays are about spending time with family, so week-long meal prep is certainly a great opportunity for families to get together and is likely why the tradition has persisted.
3. Christmas Food Tradition – (Israel) – Latkes
Since the Middle Ages, latkes – in some form or another – have been an important part of Hanukkah tradition. Latkes are fried potato pancakes are cooked in oil. This recognizes that the Second Temple kept the Menorah burning with oil for eight days.
Other dishes enjoyed as a part of this tradition include fried donuts and fritters. Hanukkah gelt, small chocolate coins, are given to children by relatives.
4. Christmas Food Tradition – (Germany) – Christmas Goose
The German Christmas feast is historically centered around the Weihnachtsgans, the Christmas goose. A tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, eating goose was originally tied to St. Martin’s Day, but eventually became a part of the Christmas meal.
Often stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions, and prunes, then spiced with mugwort and marjoram, the goose is served alongside red cabbage, dumplings, gravy, and sauerkraut.
5. Christmas Food Tradition – (Italy) – Panettone
Italy has numerous regional traditions when it comes to Christmas dinner. In some parts of Italy, they celebrate with The Feast of the Seven Fishes. This meal includes seven different fish prepared in seven different ways. More often than not, two of the featured items are baccala (salted cod) and calamari. In other areas, they eat roasted lamb, or poultry roasted or boiled and seasoned with sauce.
6. Christmas Food Tradition – (England) – Christmas Pudding
This dish goes by many names. Whether you call it figgy pudding, plum pudding, ‘pud’ or Christmas pudding, this dessert is a key Christmas tradition in England, Ireland and some parts of the US.
Despite its name, plum pudding doesn’t include plums. Pre-Victorian era, ‘plums’ referred to what we now call raisins, and because dried fruits are an important part of this pudding, it is how it earned its name.
Primarily made of suet, egg, molasses, spices, and dried fruits, Christmas pudding is set alight with brandy immediately before it is served.
7. Melomakarona / μελομακάρονα (Greece)
Sweet orange-zest cookies soaked in honey and topped with walnut? Yes, please! This item is a holiday treat that regularly appears on tables in Greece. Known as melomakarona, these cookies are often said to taste much like a baklava.
8. Cookies (Poland)
Another country with cookies on the menu come holiday season is Poland. Kołaczki is a flaky, jelly-filled confection, with dough often made with sour cream or cream cheese.
These fold-over style cookies come with a variety of fillings. If the standard apricot or raspberry doesn’t do it for you, you can also try poppyseed, nuts, or sweet cheese. They’re topped with confectioners sugar immediately before serving.
9. Bacalao (Mexico)
Bacalao, or salted cod, is not common in most countries during the holidays, but it’s a staple dish in Mexico. Before refrigeration, salted and preserving meats and fish was necessary. Today, this is no longer the case, but the practice still exists. And when, in the case of bacalao, the fish is rehydrated and cooked, the result is tender and delicious.
In Mexico, Bacalao a la Mexicana is made with tomato, ancho chiles, onions, almost, potato and olives. It’s filling and it certainly warms you up!
10. Saffron Buns (Sweden)
Julbord, a three-course meal, is served come Christmas in Sweden. The first dish is usually fish – often pickled herring. Second, cold cuts (including Christmas ham) along with sausages are served. The third course is often meatballs and a potato casserole called Janssons frestelse.
For dessert, rice pudding is popular, but there’s another treat for which the Swedes are known to make around this time – Saffron Buns.
Saffron buns are sweet and often yellow (due to the saffron, of course!). They are shaped into an “S” and then baked into their final buttery form. They’re served to the family by the oldest daughter, by tradition, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying your hand at making them, and most importantly, enjoying the end product.
11. Roast Pig (Philippines)
Noche Buena, as Christmas dinner is known in the Philippines, is held after families attend the Misa de Gallo (“Mass of the Rooster”). Hamón (cured pork leg) or Lechón (spit-roasted pig) is the main feature. Its co-stars are often quesa de bola (a ball of cheese), pasta, lumpia (spring rolls) and fruit salad.
Christmas is a big deal in the Philippines. It’s known for having the longest Christmas season with Christmas carols starting as early as September and ending usually around January 9th with the feast of the Black Nazarene. Official observance, however, is from December 16th until the first Sunday of the new year.
12. Food Board (Finland)
Fins go buffet style, or literally ‘Christmas table’ style, for their Christmas meal with Joulupöytä. This traditional food board is comparable to the Swedish smörgåsbord or julbord. It contains several dishes typical of the season such as Christmas ham, fish, and casseroles.
Other items on the table may include mushroom salad, pickled herring, and Karelian stew. For dessert, joulutahti (tarts), piparkakku (Gingerbread), and rice pudding are served.
15. Fruitcake (US) the gift that keeps on giving
Calvin Trillin theorized that there is only one fruitcake and that it is simply sent from family to family each year. Most Americans turn their noses at the very thought of fruitcake. But for some reason, this item keeps making the rounds – something made possible because the cakes are soaked in alcohol or other liquors to keep them from molding.
Immediately after they’re baked, melomakarona are soaked in a honey-sugar water mixture then sprinkled with walnuts. There is also a less traditional version of this recipe dipped in dark chocolate. Either way – sign me up.
Which Food Will You Try During the Holidays This Year?