15 Traditional Christmas Meals from Around the World


Christmas is a time of joy, family gatherings, and, most importantly, festive feasting. Around the world, different countries celebrate this cherished holiday with their unique culinary traditions. Whether it’s a hearty roast in England or an exotic seafood feast in Japan, these meals are a testament to the diverse ways we celebrate life, love, and community during Christmas.

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1. Germany: Weihnachtsgans (Christmas Goose)

In Germany, the festive meal often centers around Weihnachtsgans, a succulent Christmas goose. This dish is typically seasoned with apples, chestnuts, onions, and prunes, and served with red cabbage, dumplings, or potato rösti. The tradition of eating goose dates back to medieval times and remains a cherished part of German Christmas celebrations, symbolizing warmth and abundance.

2. Italy: Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American tradition, where families enjoy seven different seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. This feast is believed to represent the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus. The dishes vary but often include calamari, shrimp, scallops, and baccalà (salted cod), each prepared in a unique and flavorsome way.

3. Japan: KFC Fried Chicken

An unconventional but popular Christmas meal in Japan is KFC fried chicken. This tradition started in the 1970s after a successful marketing campaign. Families in Japan often reserve their bucket of chicken months in advance to enjoy on Christmas Eve, making KFC an integral part of the Japanese Christmas experience.

4. Australia: Barbecue Seafood

In Australia, where Christmas falls in summer, a barbecue is a popular choice. Australians often opt for fresh seafood like prawns, lobsters, and fish, grilled to perfection. This outdoor feast is enjoyed in the warm weather and is often accompanied by fresh salads and chilled wine.

5. Sweden: Julbord

Julbord, the traditional Swedish Christmas table, is a lavish spread of cold and hot dishes. It includes various forms of pickled herring, smoked salmon, Jansson’s temptation (a creamy potato dish), meatballs, and a special Christmas ham. This feast is a true reflection of Swedish culinary traditions and is often enjoyed with family and friends.

6. Mexico: Tamales

In Mexico, tamales are a Christmas staple. These are corn dough parcels stuffed with a range of fillings like meats, cheeses, fruits, or vegetables, and then steamed in corn husks. Making tamales is a communal and festive activity, bringing families together during the holiday season.

7. England: Roast Turkey with Trimmings

The traditional Christmas meal in England is a roast turkey, served with a variety of trimmings like stuffing, roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. This feast is typically followed by Christmas pudding, a rich, fruity dessert that symbolizes prosperity and warmth.

8. Norway: Ribbe (Pork Ribs)

In Norway, Ribbe, or pork ribs, is a popular Christmas meal. The ribs are slow-roasted to ensure crispy skin and tender meat, often accompanied by sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, lingonberry sauce, and thick gravy. This hearty meal is a winter favorite, providing warmth and comfort.

9. France: Réveillon

Réveillon is a long, luxurious meal enjoyed in France on Christmas Eve. It typically includes dishes like foie gras, oysters, and escargot, followed by a roast or a fish dish. The meal culminates with a variety of French cheeses and a traditional dessert, such as a Bûche de Noël, a decorative yule log cake.

10. Brazil: Chester

In Brazil, the Christmas meal often features Chester, a type of large, plump chicken. It’s marinated and roasted with Brazilian seasonings, resulting in a juicy and flavorful dish. This main course is usually served with colorful side dishes like farofa (toasted cassava flour), rice, and tropical fruits.

11. Philippines: Lechón

Lechón, a whole roasted pig, is a festive centerpiece in the Philippines during Christmas. The pig is roasted over an open fire, resulting in crispy skin and succulent meat. It’s often the highlight of Noche Buena, the traditional Christmas Eve feast, and symbolizes abundance and celebration.

12. Russia: Olivier Salad

In Russia, Olivier Salad is a traditional dish served during Christmas. This potato salad is made with boiled potatoes, carrots, pickles, peas, eggs, and mayonnaise, often with added meats like ham or bologna. It’s a hearty, comforting dish that’s a staple at Russian festive tables.

13. Spain: Seafood and Turron

In Spain, the Christmas meal often starts with an assortment of seafood, followed by a main course like roast lamb or suckling pig. The meal is not complete without Turron, a traditional almond nougat dessert, which comes in various flavors and textures, symbolizing the sweet end to the year.

14. Canada: Tourtière

Tourtière is a traditional meat pie enjoyed in Canada, particularly in Quebec, during Christmas. Made with minced pork, beef, or veal, and seasoned with spices, this pie is a savory delight. It’s often served with ketchup or a fruit chutney, adding a sweet and tangy contrast to the rich filling.

15. Poland: Wigilia

Wigilia is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper, consisting of 12 meatless dishes symbolizing the 12 apostles. The feast includes dishes like borscht with uszka (little dumplings), various fish dishes, pierogi, and sauerkraut. This meal is a reflection of Poland’s rich culinary traditions and religious practices.