Food traditions all around the world, give us beautiful diversity, and so much to learn about. There are a lot of ways to celebrate one holiday, and the food is a great one to express culture and tradition. That’s why we bring you Christmas dishes all around the globe.
Get ready for the gastronomic journey, and let’s see how Christmas dinner or lunch looks like in different countries.
Italy - Panettone and The Feast of the Seven Fishes
The first stop on our journey needs to be the country of food - Italy. This country has numerous regional traditions when it comes to Christmas dishes, the country of pizza and pasta, needs to play on its rules.
In some parts of Italy, they celebrate Christmas with The Feast of the Seven Fishes ( Festa Dei Sette Pesci). This tradition contains seven different fish prepared in seven different ways. Often, two of the featured items are baccala (salted cod) and calamari.
In other parts of the country, Christmas dinner includes roasted lamb, or poultry roasted or boiled and seasoned with sauce on the table.
The final course is reserved for classic Italian desserts, and in Northern Italy, one of the infamous holiday sweets is panettone – a cake with candied fruit, chocolate, raisins, and nuts. In the South they also prepare tiramisu, nougat, cannoli, and pandoro.
Germany - Christmas Goose
Weihnachtsgans or Christmas Goose is a fundamental part of the Christmas dinner in Germany. A tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, eating goose was originally referred to St. Martin’s Day, but at some point became a Christmas dish in this country.
Usually, the goose is stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions, and prunes, then spiced with mugwort and marjoram. They serve it alongside red cabbage, dumplings, gravy and sauerkraut. The cookbook published in 1350. has the oldest known recipe for this Christmas dish.
England - Christmas Pudding
We all know how Christmas decorations can be various, and the same thing goes for the name of this dessert. Whether you call it plum or figgy pudding, pud, or Christmas pudding, it all comes down to this popular dessert served in England, Ireland, and some parts of the United States.
The fun fact is that plum pudding doesn't actually include plums. That’s because in Pre-Victorian era, term ‘plums’ referred to what we now call raisins, that’s why dried fruits are an important part of this Christmas dish.
This Christmas dessert is primarily made of suet, egg, molasses, spices, and dried fruits, and it is set alight with brandy immediately before it is served.
Poland - Kołaczki (Christmas Cookies)
For Polish families, Christmas dinner is a really big event, and the best way to express it is by food. So, for this celebration, they prepare a 12-course meal that includes classic Polish dishes like borscht, mushroom soup, pierogi, and poppyseed cake.
Typical Polish desserts are cookies - kołaczki. These cookies are a flaky, jelly-filled confection, with dough often made with sour cream or cream cheese, and they are fold-over style cookies with different types of fillings. The standard one is apricot or raspberry, but they can also add poppyseed, nuts, or sweet cheese.
They’re topped with confectioners sugar immediately before serving, and you can eat them with a Christmas mug with tea or coffee inside.
Lithuania - Kūčios ( traditional Christmas dinner)
The traditional Lithuanian Christmas dinner, kūčios is held on December 24th every year, and hosting this event is a very big deal, because this meal can take up to a week to prepare.
For Lithuanians, the holidays are meant to be spent with family, next to the Christmas decoration, so a week-long meal prep is surely a good opportunity for loved ones to spend some time together, and maybe it is the reason why this tradition has persisted.
At first kūčios had nine dishes, and this was a pagan practice that later expanded to 12 dishes, one for each apostle, so it became appropriate for Christian church.
This meal includes fish, bread, and vegetables. Some of the items you can see on the Christmas menu are herring served in a tomato, mushroom or onion based sauce, smoked eel, vegetables such as potatoes, and sauerkraut (cabbage).
Sweden - Saffron Bruns
A three-course meal, julbord is a part of the Christmas tradition in Sweden. The first Christmas dish is usually fish (herring). The second dish is cold cuts. The third dish is usually meatballs and a potato casserole.
The dessert plays a huge role in the Christmas meal, so in Sweden they prepare rice pudding, or popular saffron buns. They are sweet, often yellow, and shaped into an “S”. By tradition the oldest daughter serves saffron buns to the family.
Japan - KFC for Christmas dinner
One interesting Christmas tradition came from Japan. In this country the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year for KFC, the fast-food chain. About 3.6 million Japanese families spend their Christmas Eve eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC restaurants are so full of people that they often need to reserve their meal up to two months in advance.
Behind this tradition is a brilliant marketing plan of this fast-food chain. Back in the 1970s, Japan didn't have many Christmas traditions, so KFC filled that void by suggesting consumers to go to eat their Christmas dinner in some of KFC restaurants, so this became trend quickly.
Costa Rica - Tamales
Tropical country doesn’t sound like a place with traditional Christmas dinner, and that goes for Costa Rica. In this country making tamales is Christmas tradition and every family has their own secret recipe.
How to prepare Christmas dish tamales? The basis of this dish is a corn dough, wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk, and then steamed. Some tamales are stuffed with pork, and some with chicken or beef. Other items that may be a part of the filing are onion, garlic, raisins, or potatoes.
Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to try some of these delicious Christmas dishes made by locals in these countries, or you can prepare some of these meals on your own. We wish you good luck and bon appétit!
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