Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year and Christmas lunch is the main event when family and friends come together to enjoy the best meal of the year. There is always plenty to eat, including dozens of desserts. Lets take a look at what is eaten for Christmas lunch in countries across the globe.
The famous traditional roast dinner, taken up a few gears.
The Main Event: Roast beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb or gammon (or a combination of a few) + ‘Pigs in Blankets’ (sausages wrapped in bacon) + sausage meat + stuffing + roast potatoes and parsnips + boiled veg, such as carrots, cabbage and Brussel sprouts + gravy + condiments.
Dessert: Christmas pudding with brandy butter and cream, Figgy pudding (a cross between a Christmas pudding and sticky toffee pudding, made with dried figs), Sherry trifle, Mince pies (+ chocolate mousse is always on the table at my house).
Post-Meal Nibbles: Christmas cake, Cheese and crackers, nuts, biscuits (shortbread and a Fox’s selection box are popular choices), chocolates (you’ll find After Eights, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Coins, Quality Street, Roses and Celebrations in most households).
Drinks: Plenty of booze – Port, Brandy and Hot Toddies for the older folk, Mulled wine, Champagne and Bailey’s for me!
In Italy they celebrate with a meal on Christmas Eve called the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’. It features a large spread of seven seafood dishes, but there is no set menu.
The Main Event: Popular seafood dishes include baccalà (salted cod fish), linguini with shellfish in a tomato sauce, calamari, fried capitone eel and pan-fried smelt. Tortellini in a meat broth is a popular primo.
Dessert: Sweets vary from region to region. Generally speaking, in the North torrone (nougat) is popular, as if panforte (a dense, strongly spiced fruitcake packed with dried fruit and nuts and liberally dusted with icing sugar). In the South they eat cannoli, candied fruits, many kinds of biscotti, marzipan and fresh fruits. Panettone and pandore (a sweet yeasted bread) and eaten throughout the country.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love the southern France tradition of setting out 13 desserts of Christmas Eve to mark the twelve Apostles and Jesus at the last supper.
The Main Event: Oysters, fois gras, capon (rooster) with truffles, dinde au marron (turkey stuffed with chestnuts, Choucroute garnie (a dish from Alsace of sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie).
Dessert: Buche de Noël (Christmas yule log cake), Galette des Rois (‘King’s Cake’ – a cinnamon-filled, glazed sweet dough bread – a bean is hidden inside and the lucky person to find it received certain privileges), Cheeses.
Post-Meal Nibbles: Callison (candied fruit paste sweet topped with royal icing), Chocolates, Nougat.
Drinks: Wine, Cognac, Vin chaud (mulled wine).
Another country to eat their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve. This meal is called “Nochebuena” which translated literally to “Good Night”, and is a large family feast eaten late at night.
The Main Event: Tapas of Spanish cheeses, hams and sausage (such as manchego cheese, jamòn Iberico and chorizo), langoustine, sopa de pescado y marisco (fish and shellfish soup), esparragos blancos (white asparagus with oil and vinegar), roast lamb, bacalao (salt cod), turkey stuffed with truffles.
Dessert: Turròn (almond Nougat), Polvorones (almond cookies), Mantecados (Spanish crumble cakes), Roscòn de Reyes (the same ‘King’s Cake’ as eaten in France).
Drinks: Wine, Sangria.
Lots of spices and juicy meats.
The Main Event: Roast goose, roast carp, sucking pig, Weisswurst (sausages with veal and bacon), roast potatoes, veg such as kale, Brussel sprouts and red cabbage.
Dessert: Christstollen (a German spiced fruit cake with dried fruit, candied peel, almonds, a marzipan centre and a liberal dusting of powdered sugar), Lebkuchen (a soft gingerbread cookie ).
Drinks: Glühwein (mulled wine), Feuerzangenbowle (an alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set alight and let drip into mulled wine).
Yet another Christmas Eve meal, this one called Wiglia (meaning Christmas Eve). In fact, it is not just a meal, it is an entire day of feasting with the family. The meal is meatless, honouring Catholic tradition and there are typically twelve dishes, one for each of the Apostles.
The Main Event: Stuffed carp, herring in a cream or wine sauce, vegetable salad, barszcz (beetroot soup), pierogi (dumplings filled with potato, mushrooms, sauerkraut or cheese), uszka (a small, twisted version of the pierogi dumplings), bigos (cabbage and meat stew), mushrooms in a cream sauce, sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, carrot and peas.
Dessert: Makowiec (poppy seed rolled cake), pierniczki (honey and ginger cookies), Kutia (sweet grain pudding with dried fruits and nuts).
Drinks: Kompot (a non-alcoholic clear juice made by cooking fruits such as strawberries, apricots, peaches, apples, rhubarb, gooseberries or sour cherries in a large volume of water).
Christmas traditions in the States are adopted from the UK, but there are some differences that have evolved over time.
The Main Event: Roast turkey, roast ham, mashed potato, candied yams (sweet potato)
Dessert: Plum Pudding/Christmas pudding (plums interestingly don’t feature in this dish – similar to the UK version, but with dark spiced rum, apple and figs) and lots of pies: Pumpkin pie, Mince pies, Pecan pie, Coconut pie, Sweet potato pie, Apple pie.
Christmas in Australia is a summer-time event. Out comes the barby.
The Main Event: Cold cuts, seafood such as prawns, lobster, crayfish and salmon, barbecued meats such as steak and chicken drumsticks, salads
Dessert: Pavlova (meringue topped with cream and fresh berries), Damper (a traditional soda bread, served with butter, jam, honey or golden syrup), Seasonal fruits.
Christmas Day is a tranquil affair in Mexico, following the late night festivities of the night before. On Christmas Eve, there is a traditional midnight feast eaten after Midnight Mass.
The Main Event: Tamales (steamed packages of meat, veg, chillies and cheese, wrapped in corn husks), menudo (spicy tripe soup), bacalao (salted cod fish) cooked with onions, tomatoes and olives, pozole (spicy meat stew), revoltijo de romerita (mole sauce) with potatoes and dried shrimp, suckling pig
Dessert: Buñuelos de viento (a light, crisp fritters in the shape of church Rose/Catherine windows)
Drinks: Ponche (a spiced punch with rum, brandy or tequila), Canela (tea sweetened with unrefined cane sugar), Rompope (an drink similar to eggnog), Champurrado (a warm and thick spiced chocolate milk drink)
A grand affair with large quantities of food and a wide variety of dishes.
The Main Event: Couve a mineira (kale seasoned with lots of garlic), bacalhau (salted cod fish), pernil (roast pork), lombo à Califórnia (pork loin), roast fish, maionese (potato salad).
Dessert: Lemon tart, Nuts pie, Pave (Chocolate cake), Panettone, Rabanada (french toast)
Post-Meal Nibbles: Tropical fruits, Brazil nuts.
Influenced by Hispanic tradition from their Spanish colonial period, the “Nochebuena” meal traditional are also followed here.
The Main Event: hamòn (cured leg of pork) served with queso de bola (edam cheese), morcòn (a type of chorizo), pancit (meat and vegetable noodle dish), kaldereta (goat stew with tomatoes, potatoes, liver, bell peppers, olives, hot peppers and spices – an adaptation of a 300 year-old Spanish dish). Mechado (a meat stew with soy sauce and calamansi juice) and lechon (suckling pig) are eaten in more affluent families.
Dessert: Bibingka (a cake made with rice flour and coconut milk and baked in layers), Puto bumbong (a purple-coloured dessert made of sweet rice steamed in hollow bamboo tubes, then sprinkled with grated coconut and sugar), Fruit salad.
Drinks: tsokolate (hot cocoa).