In the world we live in, appreciating the beauty of diversity is now more important than ever. This is why learning about Christmas traditions all around the world is so valuable. When you discover the Top 10 Christmas Meals Around The World, you’ll explore other cultures. You’ll learn about people who aren’t just like you. You might even want to look up recipes for some of these tantalizing Christmas dishes, from the Tamales of Costa Rica to Italy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes and beyond. While you may not want to alter your typical Christmas dinner, which might be a roast turkey with all of the trimmings if you’re Canadian or American, you will be inspired by the Christmas culinary traditions of ten wonderful places. Christmas is a good time to take stock of things. After the rush of holiday shopping is complete, most people settle down for a few days. They forget about work and focus on their loved ones. They spend time on what’s most important in the long run. Food makes holiday festivities more fun. It’s an excuse to gather and celebrate the season. So, let’s take a closer look at which meals are served in a host of global locations.
10. Tripe Soup – Dominica
Dominica is a Caribbean island. It’s not the Dominican Republic. Dominica’s citizens love eating satisfying bowls of tripe soup during the Christmas season. While this soup is definitely a year-round favorite, it’s a staple during the holidays. Most families have tripe soup recipes which have been passed down through the generations. Some families enjoy adding root veggies to the basic recipe, while others enjoy spicing up their soups with extra oregano. Tripe soup is comforting, hot and easy to share with family and friends. This soup celebrates the island’s food culture, which is all about consuming whole animals. In Dominica, people eat parts of animals which might typically be thrown out. This is a food philosophy that’s actually popular with some famous chefs, too. Dominica’s cuisine has influences from Spain, Britain and Africa.
Hot soup is such a comfort when you come in from the cold. It’s also great reheated, as flavors tend to blend beautifully while it’s in the fridge overnight. While you may not be used to eating tripe, you may want to take the plunge and try this holiday soup. It’ll expand your culinary horizons. If you’ve already tried it and you love it, whip up a batch during the holidays.
9. Dumplings (Pierogi) – Poland
Pierogi may also be known as dumplings and they are typically filled with sauerkraut, cottage cheese or mashed potatoes. These delicious little dumplings are a favorite holiday dish in Poland. While fried dumplings are becoming more commonplace these days, pierogis crafted according to Polish tradition are always boiled. Once they’re cooked, they’re served with a host of toppings. If you want to try pierogi at Christmastime, offer your guests fried onion, melted butter and crispy nuggets made from golden pork (fatback) as toppings. If you’re a vegetarian, skip the animal or dairy-based fillings and toppings. Then, enjoy a meat-free feast. Most traditional pierogi are not filled with meat, anyway. That’s because it is taboo to consume meat at Christmas dinner. A lot of Polish people are devout Catholics and they follow dietary restrictions on Christmas Day, which are similar to the dietary restrictions of Lent.
These little dumplings are available ready-made in most grocery stores, but making them by hand will be fun. It’ll be a culinary project with wonderful payoff. Just look for a truly traditional recipe that comes straight from Poland. If you’re lazy, and we are all lazy sometimes, cave in and buy frozen pierogi at the grocery store. Buy fresh toppings, though. Obviously, freshly-prepared dumplings are going to have the most authentic taste, but some excellent prepackaged pierogi are out there.
8. Seafood Gumbo – New Orleans
If you’re ready to let the good times roll during the winter holidays, you may want to whip up a traditional New Orleans seafood gumbo for friends and family. If you’re alone during the holidays, whip it up just for yourself. You’ll enjoy making it and eating it and you definitely deserve a treat. Seafood Gumbo is a Christmas dinner mainstay in the charming and iconic city of New Orleans, which is renowned for its hot jazz, Creole influences and delicious regional cuisine.
The most traditional New Orleans Christmas dinner is called Reveillon. Its origins are French and it dates back to the early part of the nineteenth century. Usually, Reveillon is consumed after a trip to mass. Mass is held at midnight, before Christmas Eve. At a Reveillon feast, there are a host of delectable dishes to sample, including seafood gumbo. Other dishes served at Reveillon include game pies and soups. While the Reveillon tradition isn’t as popular as it once was, a lot of New Orleans hotels do offer these traditional and elaborate feasts to locals and visitors. To me, it sounds so exciting to enjoy this type of traditional Christmas dinner in New Orleans. I would love to. Wouldn’t you? New Orleans is a fascinating place and its culinary traditions are just as fascinating.
7. Rice With Pigeon Peas – Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a place where Christmas is really important. It’s renowned for its long and lively holiday celebrations. In fact, it ranks high in terms of countries that make Christmas festivities an integral part of their cultures. Celebrations begin towards the latter part of November and keep going until the early part of January. Food is a big part of the fun. Many Puerto Rico residents enjoy making rice with Pigeon peas during the holidays. They call it Arroz con gandules. This classic Puerto Rico recipe features rice, pigeon peas and other enticing ingredients, including olive oil, oregano, garlic and tomato sauce. People nosh on this dish all through the year, but treasure the experience of making it and sharing it during Christmastime. If you want to try it, find a good recipe that’s authentic and then prepare to enjoy an aromatic and filling dish which gives you a glimpse into another culture.
When is the last time you branched out and tried a recipe that you’ve never made before? If you’re in a rut, I get it. I’m in the same situation. But the holidays might be a good time to go to the grocery store with a shopping list that is way different from the usual. Find the ingredients for this dish and spend some calming time in the kitchen, perhaps with a glass of wine in hand. Put on some music and start your meal prep. Invite people over to sample this dish, or eat it yourself while you watch Netflix.
6. Herring In a Fur Coat Salad – Russia
Do Russian supermodels, such as Natalia Vodianova, break their diets to enjoy a little Herring In a Fur Coat Salad during the Christmas season? Maybe. This colorful salad has many layers and it’s a popular choice in Russian homes during the winter holidays. This Christmas staple is made from herring, boiled eggs, mayonnaise and beets. If you have some free time during the holidays and you want to create dishes that are a bit more memorable and elaborate, making this salad in your home kitchen will be so much fun. You may want to have some vodka on hand, but don’t drink too much of it as you put this layered salad together. Also known as “herring under a fur coat”, it’s loaded with nutrients. There are versions of this recipe which contain layers of grated apple. The salad’s distinctive purple appearance comes from its boiled and grated beetroot layer, which is then covered in a layer of mayo. This recipe is popular during Christmas and at New Year celebrations. This dish sounds really filling. It looks a bit intimidating. It’s surely delicious, or it wouldn’t be a beloved dish in Russia, which is enjoyed during the winter holidays. This decorative salad definitely has wow factor.
5. Tamales – Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s citizens get into the holiday spirit by preparing traditional tamales during the Christmas reason. Most families have tamale recipes that are considered top-secret. In December of each year, tamales are often a part of the daily diet of Costa Ricans. Lucky them! I wouldn’t mind making tamales and enjoying them regularly. I guess there’s really nothing stopping me from creating tamales, except my crushing workload.
If you are in Costa Rica during the Christmas season and you go to a Tico home, which is a rural home in the nation, you’ll be gifted with a tamale. Giving a tamale is the Tico homeowner’s way of showing hospitality. Tamales typically feature banana leaf wrappers. They are usually stuffed with meat, such as beef, pork or chicken, as well as veggies, such as potatoes, onions and garlic. They also contain raisins and may have other ingredients, too. Tamales are a big part of Latin American culture. Each Latin American nation has its own take on traditional tamales. If you can’t be in Costa Rica this Christmas, bring a little bit of Costa Rican culture into your home, by enjoying some homemade tamales.
4. Whole Roasted Pig – Philippines
In many parts of Asia, pork is as commonplace as rice. It’s an everyday staple. The Philippines is a place where pork is definitely frequently on the menu, especially at Christmastime. The climate in the Philippines makes it an ideal place to gather friends and family in outdoor environments and enjoy pig roasts. A traditional whole roasted pig is known as a “lechon”. Preparing the pig for roasting is part of the holiday tradition. Usually, the pig gets stuffed with aromatic spices and veggies, such as garlic, onions and lemongrass. During a typical Christmastime family event in the Philippines, most people don’t rely on fancy kitchen equipment to prepare the hog for roasting. People take care of food prep tasks the old-fashioned way. Once the pig is roasting, they continue pitching in. They take turns rotating the pig, which is mounted on a pole made from bamboo. Pork lovers may drool over this holiday tradition.
While roasting a whole pig in your yard during the holidays might be a bit difficult and insensible if you’re in a cold-weather climate, you could possibly roast a pork tenderloin indoors, in your own oven, and use the same seasonings that they use in the Philippines. You’ll then get a facsimile of the real thing, which is better than nothing. The beauty of the Internet is that so many amazing recipes from other places are at our fingertips twenty-four hours a day. It’s possible to create authentic cuisine from other nations, just by sourcing out recipes from people who live in these countries.
3. Feast Of The Seven Fishes – Italy
Now it’s time to explore the Christmas culinary traditions of Italy. In the land of Ferrari and Versace, fish is typically on the menu. Many Italians take great pleasure in enjoying the Feast of the Seven Fishes at Christmastime. The Feast of the Seven Fishes happens on Christmas Eve. It’s a filling ritual to be sure. It’s popular in Italian-American communities, as well as in Italy. During this Christmas Eve feast, there must be seven types of fishes served and they need to be prepared in different ways. One type of fish will be cured, and another will be fried, and another will be presented in a rich sauce made from tomatoes. The dishes keep coming all through the evening. In certain households, there may be even more than seven courses. Sometimes, there are more than a dozen courses. One ingredient that must be featured during The Feast of the Seven Fishes is salt cod. It’s Italian name is baccala. Calamari is also a staple during this decadent holiday meal.
2. Grilled Meat, Fish And Vegetables – Netherlands
In the Netherlands, at Christmas, there is a dinner tradition known as Gourmetten. During Gourmetten, a bunch of people sit together at the dining room table and cook small dishes in compact pans, over big hot plates. It’s a lot like French and Swiss “raclette”. However, unlike “raclette”, cheese isn’t grilled. Instead, veggies, meat and fish are grilled. Dutch people also love making small pancakes and omelettes. They add excitement to their holiday feasts by adding a host of sauces. They also enjoy garlic bread.
It seems like it would be fairly easy to enjoy this fun communal meal at home, as long as a big hot plate is available. Grilling is a simple and satisfying way of cooking. If you want to try something new, embrace the Dutch Christmas spirit and invite people over to grill small dishes at your place. If you don’t have a big hot plate, you could set up a fondue pot or something, just to get the same group cooking vibe going. Sure, it won’t be really Dutch, but it’ll be fun, right?
1. Christmas Goose – Germany
There’s something so romantic about the idea of spending Christmas in Europe. Those who are fortunate enough to experience Christmas in other countries must treasure their travel experiences. I’m usually in my home city during the holidays, or fairly close to it. I wouldn’t mind taking the Eurail around Europe during the winter holidays, sampling cuisine from the different countries and enjoying the old-world architecture. If I made it to Germany during Christmas, I might be lucky enough to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner, which includes roast goose. I’ve never tried roast goose, but it’s a staple in German households at Christmastime. It is the Christmas dinner menu item. It’s the centerpiece for the whole meal. People in Germany are also enjoying roast duck at Christmas these days.
Now that you know more about ten interesting and yummy Christmas meals around the world, you’ve hopefully learned something new, and gotten into the Christmas spirit, too. Food brings people together, no matter where they live. Christmas brings people together, too. Food and Christmas go hand in hand, which is why so many people start diets in January. This is a time to let loose and live a little. It’s a time of love, happiness and indulgence. Count your blessings on Christmas, and be sure to experiment with some of these amazing recipes. All of them are very traditional and authentic.