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Surely all the best Christmas traditions revolve around food. It’s what we look forward to the whole year. Seeing the family and sitting down together to have a good catch up and eat yourself into a food coma.
Here in the UK we get spoiled with our Christmas dinner, the moist turkey, nutty stuffing, fluffy roast potatoes, salty pigs in blankets, Brussel sprouts fried with bacon, honey roast carrots, soft Yorkshire puddings and it all topped off with thick, hearty gravy. Delish.
But what do people around the world eat for Christmas?
We take a look at a select few countries and see just what foods they enjoy to celebrate the Christmas holiday…
CHRISTMAS MORNING BLUES
I’d NO IDEA what it could be
That disagreed so much with me…
Perhaps it was the cheese?
Or it could have been the chocolates,
The plate of mushy peas,
The nuts, the quiche, the oranges,
The toast and strawberry jam,
The oven chips, the buttered sprouts,
The ice cream and meringue,
The yoghurt and bananas,
The pizza, figs and dates,
The mince pies and the vol-au-vents,
The crisps, the fairy cakes,
The jelly and the cornflakes,
The sausage on a stick –
I don’t know WHICH of them it was
But SOMETHING made me sick!
And, after such a tiny munch,
I felt TOO ILL for Christmas lunch!
– Trevor Harvey
Parsley Box customer
Christmas in Australia is a warm affair with Christmas day temperatures often reaching the high 30s and even low 40s depending on where you are in the country.
Because of this the menu usually features a good Aussie BBQ, cold cuts of meat (ham, roast chicken, roast beef etc) and a variety of salads.
Another staple of Christmas day in Australia are prawns. Either grilled on the barbie or served cold in a prawn cocktail, prawns are a commonly served starter course for Christmas dinner down under.
For dessert Aussies can usually be found tucking into a Pavlova, generously garnished with a variety of fresh fruit.
Cubans are one of many nationalities around the world who primarily celebrate the Christmas holiday on Christmas Eve.
Known as Noche Buena (the ‘Good Night’) December 24th sees Cuban families enjoy an evening feast that commonly lasts until midnight.
The feast is usually centred around the Lechón, a whole roasted suckling pig, with side dishes of black beans, rice and roasted plantain. For dessert on Noche Buena, Cubans can usually be found tucking into rice pudding and rum cake.
The main Christmas feast in France is known as Le Réveillon de Noël (‘the eve of Christmas’) and as the name suggests, takes place on Christmas Eve. On this evening the French really eat well.
Seafood is the typical starter for the feast, normally oysters or smoked salmon, although foie gras (duck or goose liver) is also often served. The main course is chestnut-stuffed roast turkey, guinea fowl or pheasant served with vegetables.
After the main course, the French usually tuck into a cheese platter, expertly paired with rich French wine before the dessert course of a traditional bûche de Noël (or Yule log) is served.
As you would expect from such a foodie culture, the Italians do not hold back when it comes to Christmas feasting. Catholic tradition prohibits the eating of meat on the even of religious holidays, so for Italians, la Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve) is all about seafood.
The focus is on variety when it comes to the seafood with multiple types including eel, octopus, fish and shellfish being served in different ways, commonly accompanied by pasta.
The following day, Italians will go all out when it comes to eating meat, starting their Christmas day feast with antipasti platters of cured meats and cheeses. After the starter typically comes meat-filled pasta and a roast; usually lamb, veal or guinea fowl.
The traditional dessert for an Italian Christmas feast is panettone, a bread-like cake stuffed with dried fruits, citrus and sometimes chocolate, and served with a light mascarpone cream flavoured with liqueur.
One of our favourite Christmas dinner traditions comes from Japan. Japan as a nation didn’t really have any particular Christmas food traditions. However in 1970 the owner of the one of the first KFC restaurants in the country overheard some American tourists discussing how they were going to miss their turkey come Christmas day spent in Japan.
Thinking fried chicken might make a worthy substitute, the owner created the KFC ‘Christmas party barrel’, a family feast to be sold at Christmas. The idea, known as Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ spread like wildfire, going nation-wide in Japan in 1974.
It is now a bona fide tradition for many Japanese people with the restaurant estimating some 3.6 million families treat themselves to KFC on Christmas Day, having to put their orders in months in advance.
A traditional German Christmas feast involves a weihnachtsgans (roast goose), often stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions and prunes. Sometimes the goose is substituted with duck or rabbit and served alongside red cabbage, sauerkraut and dumplings.
For dessert is it traditional for a large plate of iced biscuits to be brought out, usually featuring Lebkuchen, a type of German Christmas cookie.
Christmas dinner in Denmark is typically roast pork or duck served alongside potatoes, cabbage and a thick gravy. A fun tradition comes with the dessert, normally Risalamande, a rice pudding made with milk, rice, vanilla, cream and chopped almonds.
Although it can be eaten cold, at Christmas it is served warm and topped with cinnamon, butter and a cherry sauce. A singular whole almond is added into the dessert and whoever finds the almond in their own serving gets a prize.
Have you experienced any Christmas dinner traditions in other countries?
Do you have family overseas?
We’d love to hear about your Christmas dinner experiences.