Christmas Foods Around the World

Christmas is coming up and with this time of year comes holiday traditions. Food plays a big role in most family traditions in America. There’s the Christmas roast beef, gingerbread houses, and eggnog. All around the world, there are popular Christmas foods that are served at the tables of families from every country. Here’s a sneak peek at a few Christmas foods from around the world:

In England, as well as Australia, mince pies are a popular Christmas treat. Originally filled with meat such as lamb, mince pies are now filled with dried fruits and spices and served for dessert. The tops of these round little pies are sometimes formed into star or holly leaf shapes. Powdered sugar is then lightly sprinkled over the top crust.

Merry Christmas in French is, Joyeux Noël. A popular Christmas tradition in France is burning a yule log. This was a way to usher in the spring season, by burning a yule log decorated with holly or pinecones, and sprinkled with wine and salt to add a sweet aroma. Bunche de Noël, or a yule log cake was first created in the 1800s and is nowadays baked if a household can’t burn logs. This famous French dessert consists of rolled up sponge cake that is frosted with buttercream and decorated to look like tree bark.

In Germany, Stollen bread is a common Christmas pastry that was originally created to represent baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Early Stollen loaves weren’t as flavorful as they are now since the Catholic church didn’t allow milk and butter to be used as ingredients during advent. A papal proclamation later passed, allowing bakers to use milk and butter in their Stollen recipes. Now Stollen bread is made with dried or candied fruit and covered with powdered sugar.

Ponche Navideño is a Mexican Christmas punch that has several classic varieties. There are a few things that every good recipe of this traditional holiday drink must have though. The first thing is tejocotes. These are apple-like fruits that are in season in Mexico around Christmastime. They have a unique sweet-sour flavor and range from a beautiful orange to golden yellow color. These fruits are really only found in Mexico but kumquats or yellow plums can be used as substitutes. Other essential ingredients include, fresh sugar cane and piloncillo, which is a dark brown sugar that is usually formed into cones. Ponche Navideño is served hot and is a Christmas Eve must-have.

KFC is a big deal in Japan on Christmas Eve. In the 1970s, Kentucky Fried Chicken launch a highly successful ad campaign for a Christmas special in Japan. Since then, KFC has become such a popular Christmas tradition in Japan that people have to place their orders in October. KFC even serves cakes and sparkling wine with their chicken.  

Hallacas are the most popular Christmas meal in Venezuela. This dish is influenced by three different cultures, the white, Indian, and African cultures. It is similar to the Mexican tamale or Puerto Rican pastel. Hallacas take a long time to make. Masa dough and meat are wrapped in plantain leaves and are usually made in large batches. Families come together to make the hallacas and sometimes that in itself is part of the Christmas tradition.

There are many more Christmas traditions to be explored but no matter where in the world one may be, they can be assured that they will be surrounded by good food and good company. Here’s wishing everyone a happy holidays!