Christmas Food Traditions Around the World

roast duck christmas food

When it comes to Christmas food, traditions are a key part of the celebrations. Sitting down with family and friends and feasting together is a classic way to spend the day. And for many the dishes are steeped in tradition and made with great care and love. My family has always enjoyed wild duck for Christmas dinner, which has been reserved from the duck shooting season, whereas my wife’s family has held the turkey tradition.

For some countries the feasting is on Christmas Eve or starts a few days before Christmas and continues a few days afterwards. And within countries the traditional dishes can vary from region to region.

Here are a few different Christmas food traditions we found from around the world:

Japan – Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Eve! Orders need to be booked 2 months in advance!

GermanyWeihnachtsgans – Goose stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions and prunes, then spiced with mugwort and marjoram. And of course, Stollen.

Italy – In some regions “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” is followed, which is seven different fish prepared in seven different ways. Usually included are calamari and salted cod.

BulgariaKolivo – Boiled wheat with sugar and walnuts is often the first dish served on Christmas Eve.

LithuaniaKūčios – Traditionally nine dishes but later expanded to 12 dishes, one for each apostle. Avoiding meat, dairy and hot food for this meal, the tradition is fish, vegetables and breads.

MexicoBacalao, which is salted cod prepared with tomato, onions, potatoes, olives, and chillies.

Philippines – Spit-roasted pig and cured legs of pork served with a ball of cheese, pasta, spring rolls, and fruit salad.

SwitzerlandFondue Chinoise – Thin slices of meat are dipped with skewers into a boiling broth.

Norway – Pinnekjøtt  – On 24 December, many Norwegian streets are filled with the meaty smokiness of wood-fired lamb ribs. Pinnekjøtt is first dried, cured or smoked, and then cooked slowly over birch wood until the meat is juicy and tender. Swede and carrot mash, and a sweet lingonberry jam are the main accompliements, as is a shot of akevitt, a Scandanavian spirit.

Ethiopia – Rooster doro wat –  Orthodox Ethiopians celebrate Christmas, or Ganna, on 7 January. Their 43-day fast, which begins on 25 November, is broken with Ethiopia’s national dish, rooster doro wat, a fiery chicken stew with hard-boiled eggs.