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Traditional Christmas foods around the world

To many people, Christmas is reminiscent of family meals, gift giving, and good food. While most dishes eaten at Christmas are typical of the season and country they are found in, there are a few staple dishes one cannot miss... and a few odd ones, too!

Roast meat

Image courtesy of Marjan Lazarevski

This one should sound familiar! A roast cut of meat is a traditional Christmas dish in many countries, from Australia to Venezuela. The choice of meat is varied and includes pork, chicken, beef, or less common meats like goose, duck or pheasant. Splashing out on a nice piece of meat for Christmas is a worldwide tradition, it would seem.

Fried chicken

Image courtesy of Alpha

Fried chicken is just as suitable at 2am if the kebab shop is closed as it is at Christmas dinner. In Japan, where Christmas is less a religious, family-oriented celebration and more a romantic, Valentine ’s Day lookalike, fried chicken is the staple dish to eat for Christmas. You can even book a table at your local KFC to avoid deception… we’re not even joking.

Twelve Dish Christmas Eve Supper

Image courtesy of Przykuta

While meat may seem a vital component of Christmas to some of us, some countries such as Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries, celebrate Christmas with twelve meatless dishes representing the Twelve Apostles. The actual dishes vary from country to country, but a few are universal: soup, fish, and mushroom dishes are staples of this tradition.

Pumpkin pie

Image courtesy of Mark Fowler

This is another dish crossing many borders – pumpkin pies can be found in many countries as a staple Christmas side dish or dessert. It is sweet in countries like Canada and the USA, whereas Albania has a savoury version called byrek me kungull dhe are, with walnuts, salt, pepper and oregano.

Vitel tone

Image courtesy of Frank Wouters

This is a dish generally served in summertime in Italy, but is also particularly popular in Argentina around Christmas. It consists of a piece of veal covered in a mayonnaise sauce with tuna cooked in wine and cider – and refrigerated for up to 5 days. This dish is served cold, which explains it summertime popularity in Italy.

Cola de mono

Image courtesy of 世書 名付

Not quite a dish, but a beverage. This Chilean Christmas drink literally translates as “monkey’s tail”, and is made of aguardiente, milk, coffee, vanilla and cloves. This tradition is akin to that of eggnog in North America, but the drink itself is quite different. A non-alcoholic version is often prepared for children.


Image courtesy of Ivana Sokolovic

This is a ceremonial Serbian bread, essential to any successful Christmas dinner. Traditionally, it is rotated three times counterclockwise before being broken up between family members. During its preparation, a small silver coin – or similar object – is inserted in the dough, and whoever finds it in their piece of bread will have exceptional luck in the coming year. Similar traditions of inserting small objects in food can be found in various countries, such as the Möndlugrautur in Iceland or Julgröt in Sweden and Denmark, where an almond is hidden in a Christmas pudding for a lucky winner to find.

So, what will you be doing for Christmas? Will you be having a traditional meal at home, or will you be trying a local Christmas dinner in a foreign country? Either way, we’re sure it’ll be delicious!

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