christmas dinner

Christmas Around the Globe

Christmas around the globe


December heralds the Christmas season, filled with green and red, fake-snow frosted pine trees and traversing cities and states to catch up with family. Amidst the presents and the carols and the, frankly, too much chocolate, is the quintessential Christmas dinner (or lunch, if you enjoy a good amount of Christmas wine before the afternoon).  Whether you celebrate Christmas as a family holiday or to honour the birth of Christ; for Yuletide, the traditional pagan celebration of the winter solstice, or Hanukkah and its eight day celebration, December is a month full of light and good cheer.  Australia is one of 160 countries that observe Christmas as a nationwide holiday, which gives us plenty of time to indulge in some of our favourite things, including the Christmas feast! We’re familiar with seafood (nothing like fresh, cold prawns on a hot summer’s day), carved hams and turkeys and fruit cakes and chocolates, but there are many weird and wonderful Christmas celebrations around the world. 

Christmas Feasts  

 Traditional Christian/Catholic countries like Poland and Lithuania delight in Christmas feasts. Their feast consists of 12-course meals in honour of the 12 apostles, and in France 13 desserts for the apostles and Jesus Christ. 

In Poland, the 12-dish meal is called the Wigilia Feast. Surprisingly, it is completely meatless, consisting of red borscht (beetroot soup) and other soups, carp, herring, and pierogi. Poppy seed cake and dried fruit compote beverages are served for dessert to round off the feast. Over time this tradition has changed to accommodate the number of guests, but the spirit of the 12 apostle feast remains. 

Lithuania has a similar feast served on Christmas Eve, 12 dishes with the main star being herring. Carrots, beets, apples, or mushrooms accompany the multiple herring dishes, and also dumplings and sauerkraut. The sweet treat served on Christmas Eve is Kūčiukai, eaten with poppy seed milk. 

 France’s 12 apostle (+ Jesus Christ) feast comes in the form of their 13 desserts. Alongside classic Parisian pastries, they serve dried and fresh fruits, candied citrus peels and nuts. Their Christmas Eve dinner (Le Réveillon) includes oysters, foie gras (a duck or goose liver), a chestnut-stuffed roast turkey, and a variety of cheeses. They also are sure to serve bûche de Noël, or Yule log, a sweet cake decorated with forest imagery.  

Italy has a similar tradition in the form of ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’, Festa dei sette pesci. This Christmas Eve feast is exactly what it sounds like. Seven dishes made of fish or shellfish, most commonly octopus, cod, capitone, and clams. Seafood pastas and vegetables dishes are also a part of the menu.  

 Mexico takes feasting to the next level. Festivities continue until  Día de Los Reyes (6 January) when families eat rosca de reyes or "king's cake", a wreath-shaped sweet bread decorated with candied fruit. People can find small toys within the cake which predicts good fortune in the new year.

Christmas Eve Celebrations

Cuba is another country which focuses their celebration on Christmas Eve. Noche Buena, is a feast built around such basic dinner staples as black beans and rice, though lucky families include a roasted pig as the star of their dish. You can also expect a side of fried plantains and rice pudding or rum cake for dessert.  

Spaniards eat a Christmas lunch, but most of the spirit is in the large Christmas Eve dinner before the church service. The Christmas Eve dinner is traditionally led by seafood, but there has been a rise in a roast turkey stuffed with mushroom truffles as the star dish, named
pavo trufado de navidad. Christmas sweets include nougat (turrón), which can either be brittle or soft, and polvorones (shortbread cookies).  

Finland’s Christmas Eve dinner (Joulupöytä or Yule table) is a baked ham and its accompaniments: beet salad, rutabaga and other casseroles, pâtés, and fish dishes. 


Smorgasbord is a fun adjective we use to describe a delicious layout of all of our favourite dishes, but in Scandinavian countries like Germany and Sweden, smorgasbord is multi-course dinners served in celebrations, like Christmas.  

Christmas Day in Germany heralds the likes of  krustenbraten (pork roast with a crackling) and/ or Weihnachtsgans (Christmas goose). You could also expect to see rabbit, potato dumplings and stuffing. The traditional Christmas cookies in Germany are called Weihnachtsplätzchen and served around dinner. 

A Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord (or Julbord) is traditionally eaten in three courses. Fish are featured often, like pickled herring or lutfisk (lye-soaked salt cod). Also to be expected is liver pâté, Christmas ham or roast lamb, with traditional sides like potatoes, cabbage, and beet salad. Christmas cookies are expected, along with rice pudding that the Swedish call ris à lá malta

The Classics 

Pork, lamb and poultry are classics for a reason -- they just work! 

In Iceland, lamb is cooked in a meat broth called kjötsúpa, accompanied by hams and game birds, and the classic sides. Indian Christmas often includes biryani (a spices, meat, and rice dish) with lamb or mutton curry, and sides like jeera pulao (cumin rice) and aloo gobi (spiced potato and cauliflower). New Zealanders enjoy a roast lamb, too, on Christmas Day.  

 Christmas dinner in Denmark is roast duck and goose (or pork). They serve sides such as boiled potatoes and gravy, and red cabbage. Chileans serve roast turkey alongside their famous holiday drink ‘tail of the monkey’ cola de mono (aguardiente, coffee, milk, and sugar).  Britain and the USA serve turkey along with their usual sides. In Greece, there is a fasting period before the first Christmas meal of the day: avgolemono, a chicken and rice soup with an egg yolk and lemon base. They also serve pork, stuffed cabbage; christopsomo, which means "Christ's bread;" and the well-known baklava. Their cinnamon and orange christmas cookies (melomakarona) are extremely popular.

 Romania serves many pork dishes around Christmas time, such as flick, usually pork leg in aspic and pork stew. Also homemade pickles and traditional Romanian Christmas sweet bread known as cozonac. The Philippines make a sweet feast including Christmas ham (sweetened with honey) and crispy roasted pig has a caramelized skin or baked chicken stuffed with other meats and onions (rellenong manok). Entire pigs are spit-roasted in Argentine, Puerto Rico, Peru and the Philippines (called lechon).  

 Christmas food in Venezuela is called hallacas and is a mixture of chicken, beef and pork wrapped in maize and plantain leaves (similar to tamales), seasoned with capers, raisins and olives. Tamales are served in Costa Rica: a mix of ground corn, pork, carrots, rice, sweet pepper, and achiote, or roast pork; and El Queque Navideño, a Christmas cake made of rum and candied fruit. 


After fasting on Christmas Eve, the Portuguese indulge in Consoada, which includes bacalhau or salt cod. Some regions prefer octopus (polvo), either roasted or with rice. Sides served include boiled eggs, cabbage and sweet potatoes. In Czech Republic, there is also a period of fasting which is broken by sweet Christmas bread. The large evening dinner includes either fish soup or mushroom kuba (a sort of risotto made with barley), fried carp and potato salad. 

The Weird and the Wonderful 

 Weird and wonderful things are eaten all around the world on Christmas. You’ve probably heard of Japan and its relationship with KFC on Christmas. In China, they give apples wrapped in shiny wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. In Colombia, they eat buñuelos, which are fried balls of queso fresco (fresh white cheese), as well as natilla (a kind of custard) and hojuelas (flaky fried pastries flavoured with orange juice or orange zest).  Goat Curry is a unique serving at Jamaican Christmas dinners and Filipino sweet spaghetti is served with a sugar-sweetened tomato sauce in Christmas dinners (just like that scene from Elf). 

Denmark serves  Risalamande (cold rice pudding) or risengrød (hot rice pudding), served with whipped cream, almonds, vanilla, and hot cherry sauce. Similar to the Mexican king’s cake, a peeled almond is hidden inside the serving bowl, and whoever finds the almond receives a present. 

In Greenland, the star Christmas dish is whale and reindeer meat. You’ll also find mattak, which is strips of whale blubber encased in whale skin and kiviak which is made of fat, meat and blood, herbs and berries, wrapped and preserved by freezing.

Enjoy your Christmas 

 Whether you’re venturing into trying new things this season (have your own feast of the seven fishes, or try your hand at foie gras) or sticking with the classics you know and love (glazed hams and fresh, cold prawns) Sunshine Coast Organic Meats can help you have your perfect Christmas feast: whole hams and turkeys, rolled turkey roasts and even rolled chicken roast. We also have the accoutrements of an appealing feast; housemade gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pre-packed charcuterie boards. Our Christmas orders close on the 19th so don’t forget to get your orders in!  Come in store or email us online with any questions you have about our Christmas orders.

Our Latest Recipe: Christmas Turkey with all the fixings