Every family has their own set of Christmas traditions, but what we all have in common is a love for good food. And in each part of the world, gathering around the table to enjoy a delicious meal is a big part of celebrating Christmas! These Christmas dishes are also a great representation of the different cultures and histories around us.
So what are you waiting for? Find out what some families across the globe feast on during the holidays by checking out the mouthwatering Yuletide dishes below! And let us know too if you’ll be giving any of these meals a try with your families!
Christmas is celebrated during the summer season in the land down under, so the warmer weather becomes the perfect setting for a good old barbecue. On the grill, you’ll find a feast of seafood, with the most popular dishes being king, tiger, or banana prawns.
For dessert, the Pavlova is always the star. The Pavlova is an egg-based, meringue dessert that is crisp and airy and is usually topped with cream and fresh fruits. It is said to have been named after renowned Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
The most quintessential Canadian dessert is none other than the butter tart, which has origins that date back to the 1600s when young women from France were sent to Quebec, bringing their traditional European recipes along with them. These recipes were tweaked according to what ingredients were available at that time, which then led to the creation of the butter tart.
Another iconic Canadian treat is the Nanaimo bar, a three-layered no-bake cookie with a crumbly cake base and a creamy custard center topped with chocolate. Taking its name from a 1952 Women’s Auxiliary Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook where the first known recipe can be found, the Nanaimo bar is ingrained in Canadian food culture and enjoyed by many (locals and tourists alike), especially during Christmas!
Similar to families in the Philippines, French families indulge in a Christmas feast called the Reveillon served after the Midnight Mass. But, after this Christmas meal, the French have 13 desserts (for Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles), each with their own meaning! For example, white and black nougat symbolize both good and evil and the end of the winter solstice.
Many families in Iceland keep the beloved Christmas tradition of making leaf bread, a thin, crispy, fried flatbread with intricate patterns. Families and friends gather together to cut out patterns on the thin dough and also use this as an opportunity to bond and show off their artistic sides!
Japan has its own quirky Christmas dinner tradition featuring KFC fried chicken. According to BBC, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families would buy KFC fried chicken every year for Christmas dinner. What sparked the KFC fried chicken dinner tradition in Japan was a marketing campaign in the 70’s called “Kentucky for Christmas,” inspired by the American turkey dinner. Japan doesn’t have a lot of Christmas traditions since only about one to two percent of the country is Christian. But thanks to KFC’s successful ad, Japan now has its own fun Christmas dinner feast!
Christmas dinners in Mexico are also a huge family affair and what completes every table is the tamales, which is corn dough filled with meat, wrapped in corn husk, and steamed. Preparing the tamales can be quite time-consuming, but that’s why making them in large batches during the holidays is a team effort among families! Believe it or not, the tradition of making tamales dates as far back as 10,000 years ago! And while it has gone through many evolutions since, the tamales still remains a warm and beloved food tradition every Christmas time in Mexico.
Nothing beats Christmas in the Philippines, don’t you agree? I’m sure we’re all looking forward to a delicious Noche Buena this year with classic Filipino favorites like lechon, our sweet Filipino spaghetti, fruit salad, and pancit. But the most distinct Christmas dish in the Philippines has to be our kakanin or rice cakes like bibingka and puto bumbong. These treats have been around since pre-colonial Philippines and are said to have been offerings to gods. Nowadays, they’re a comforting and festive must-have at any Filipino table on Christmas!
No matter where you are in the world, food is a language we can all understand, especially during the holidays! Maybe this Christmas, you could try out some of these cuisines with your family by searching for recipes online. That would be a great way to teach your kids more about traditions here and around the world. And who knows? You might even make new traditions of your own! Happy eating, mom!