Alternative Christmas Dinners Around the World
IcelandThe Icelandic Christmas buffet sees an assortment of dishes laid out for the family to sample from. As an island nation, fish plays a heavy role in the occasion, with platters of herring, cured salmon and even smoked puffin being enjoyed. Another common food in Iceland at Christmas is the reindeer pâté. While some enjoy deer meat as part of their main meal at Christmas in Iceland, it is more commonly served cold in pâté form. Instead, meats such as ham, beef or smoked lamb will be served as the main warm dish.
JapanWhat can be seen as one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the world, a 1974 promotion for KFC, which suggested having ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ has led to the fried chicken chain becoming a Christmas staple in Japan. Going against the nature of the fast food chain, KFC is so popular on Christmas day now that KFC restaurants in Japan require bookings and pre-orders! If you don’t, you would be queueing round the block come Christmas day!
A number of Christmassy desserts are also enjoyed in Japan, including their Christmas cake. Unlike a traditional British fruitcake, the Japanese version is more like a strawberry shortcake with layers of fluffy sponge, whipped cream and bright red strawberries. A festive touch can be added to the cake with decorations!
ItalyChristmas Day dishes in Italy can vary from region to region, but for the most part, a Christmas lunch will consist of a range of dry cured meats, olives, and a selection of delicious Italian cheeses as a starter before enjoying a pasta course such as lasagne or ravioli. This is then followed by a main meat roast dish, such as beef or baked chicken.
One of the more famous aspects of the Italian Christmas, however, is The Feast of the Seven Fishes, which is enjoyed on Christmas Eve before families go to Mass. Thought to be a lighter and less meaty alternative to the upcoming Christmas lunch, the exact dishes served at the Feast of Seven Fishes varies between households. The number of ‘seven fishes’ doesn’t reflect a strict set number, as some families will serve up around 13 separate fish dishes! One of the most popular dishes is baccala, a dried and salted cod, with lobster, sardines, calamari and mussels being other well-enjoyed seafood plates for the occasion. In true Italian style, much of this seafood will be incorporated into pasta dishes or salads and served with wine.
ChinaAs Christianity is not the main religion in China, Christmas is not a public holiday in the country; however, this does not stop some people from celebrating the day as a seasonal festivity. Similar to Japan, many restaurants have used Christmas as a great marketing opportunity, meaning that many Chinese families will dine out on the day. Some hotels or Western-style restaurants may serve up a traditional British Christmas meal if booked in advance, but, for the most part, Chinese food will be enjoyed. As turkeys are not native to China and are not a particularly common import, dishes such as Peking duck or dumplings are far more likely to be eaten at Christmas in China.
FranceIn the region of Provence in France, Christmas is celebrated in a very sweet way! Thirteen desserts, representing Jesus and the 12 apostles, are laid out on a table for three days, allowing family members to pick and nibble from the spread each time they walk past. A few of the ingredients in the 13 dishes remain constant between households, including raisins, walnuts, dried figs, almonds and dates, as they have religious symbolism, however, the rest of the dishes can be chosen by each family. Other common dishes or ingredients include platters of fresh fruit, biscotins, candied lemon, nougat and yule logs.
SwedenKnown as julbord, or ‘the Christmas table’, families in Sweden go all-out on their Christmas Eve feast, with an impressive assortment of dishes typically on offer. Amongst them are Christmas hams, pickled herring and meatballs. Chunks of bread are dipped into broth or enjoyed alongside a selection of smoked and cured meats. This is all washed down with a warming glass of mulled wine.
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