Christmas Foods Around the World

Posted on the 19th December 2018

1. Fried Christmas Chicken (KFC) in Japan

While the “traditional Christmas” is not huge in Japan, the Christmas season IS the most wonderful time of the year of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Around 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC on Christmas Eve. During the 70s, KFC offered a holiday party bucket, filling the Christmas tradition void. Today, the KFC Christmas bucket includes the usual fried chicken alongside Christmas cake. You may even have to book a whole month in advance to get a place!


2.Kūčios (Lithuania)

The hosting of kūčiosis no easy task; held on December 24th every year, this meal can take up to a week to prepare. The kūčios is now made up of 12 dishes (one for each apostle), and contains no meat, dairy, or hot foods. It includes fish, breads, and vegetables. For Lithuanians, the holidays are about spending time with family, so a week-long meal prep is certainly a great opportunity for families to get together and is likely why the tradition has persisted.

3.Christmas Goose (Germany)

The German Christmas feast is historically centred 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. The oldest known recipe for this dish comes from a cookbook published in 1350, ‘Das Buch von guter Speise’.

4.Panattone (Italy)


Sweets play an important role during the holiday season, and in Northern Italy, one of the infamous holiday sweets is panettone– a cake with candied fruit, chocolate, raisins, and nuts. Other treats include torrone, nougat, marzipan, zeppole, cannoli, and pandoro.

5.Tamales (Central America)

In a number of countries, making tamalesis a Christmas tradition and every family has their own ‘secret’ recipe. The basis of tamales is a corn dough, wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk, and then steamed. Some are stuffed with pork, and some with beef or chicken. Other foods that may be a part of the filling are garlic, onion, potatoes, or raisins.

6.Christmas Pudding (England)

This dessert is a key Christmas tradition in England, Ireland and some parts of the US. Primarily made of suet, egg, molasses, spices, and dried fruits, Christmas pudding is set alight with brandy immediately before it is served.

7.Bûche de Noël (France)

La Bûche de Noëlis a dessert that symbolically represents the Yule Log – a wood log that was traditionally carried into the home, sprinkled with wine, and then burned on Christmas Eve. In the 1940s when the practice started to disappear, this dessert took up the mantle. It is mainly made from sponge cake and chocolate buttercream, however you can now find recipes for anything from tiramisu to cran-raspberry mascarpone, caramel cream to Meyer lemon.

8.Kolivo коливо (Bulgaria)

Kolivo, boiled wheat with sugar and walnuts, is often the first item to appear on tables come Christmas Eve in Bulgaria. Similar to a pudding, both Russia (кутья) and Poland (kutia) have comparable dishes. Sometimes served with honey, poppyseed, other grains, rice, beans, or dried fruit, kolivocan be prepared many different ways. It is often connected with Orthodox traditions. In addition to Bulgaria, it also appears on tables in Serbia, Romania, Georgia, and Ukraine.

9.Melomakarona / μελομακάρονα (Greece)

Sweet orange-zest cookies soaked in honey and topped with walnut? Yes, please! Known as melomakarona, these cookies are often said to taste much like baklava. 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.

10.Cookies (Poland)

Another country with cookies on the menu come holiday season is Poland. 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 poppy seed, nuts, or sweet cheese.

11.Saffron Buns (Sweden)

Saffron buns are sweet and often yellow in colour (due to the saffron, of course!). They are shaped into an “S” and then baked into their final buttery form. After a three course meal, 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.

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