Traditional Christmas dishes from around the world

No matter where in the world you are, Christmas is about more than tradition and family – it’s also about food.

  05/12/2019 11:27


In Sweden, the Swedish julbord or “Christmas table” usually begins with cold fish dishes, then meats, hot food, and dessert. In most instances, the table features a Christmas ham, boiled then glazed with eggs, breadcrumbs and mustard – and served cold.

Apart from the centrepiece, Swedish Christmas dinner usually includes meatballs, lutfisk, a potato and fish dish, and pork sausage. Libations consist of Glögg, a mulled wine, which is drunk before or after the meal.


Christmas in Japan revolves around fried chicken – with KFC experiencing its busiest time of the year.

The tradition began in 1974 when the chicken brand created an advertising campaign called “Kentucky for Christmas” and it became popular. Most families have to place their Christmas orders weeks in advance to secure their fried chicken meals.

In addition, traditional Japanese Christmas also sees Christmas cake eaten, especially strawberry shortcake. Hot sake is also served on the holiday to wash down the meal.


To celebrate the holiday in Portugal, most people eat variations of codfish and boiled potatoes. However, it is the variety of desserts and pastries that take centre stage.

There are two types of Christmas cake, Bolo Rei, a nut- and fruit-filled concoction and Bolo Rainha, a variation with no candied fruit, as well as filhoses, fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar, and Broa, small sweets made from egg yolk and sweet potato.


Christmas in Germany is observed with a dinner involving duck, goose, rabbit or a roast, and sides such as potato and red cabbage dumplings.

For dessert, Stollen, a fruit bread of nuts, spices and dried fruit topped with powdered sugar is a traditional favourite, in addition to gingerbread houses, called pfefferkuchenhaus.

As for beverages, Feuerzangenbowle or “fire tong” punch, a hot mulled wine and rum beverage is popular, as is regular mulled wine, called Glühwein.


On Christmas Eve, the most popular dish in Norway is roasted pork served with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. Whole, steamed sheep’s head is also on the menu, with the ear and eye meant to be eaten first while the brain is taken out and served boiled or fried.

For dessert, Multekrem is made by mixing cloudberries with whipped cream and sugar.


In America, Christmas dinner resembles Thanksgiving – there is turkey or ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

For Jewish people living in America, the tradition is to eat Chinese food – with most Chinese restaurants open on the holiday.


Christmas dinner in Britain isn’t complete without turkey, roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, pigs in blankets, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. 

Christmas pudding tops off the end of the feast. And Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without mulled wine. 


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