After getting loads of presents, Christmas dinner might be the next best thing about Christmas day. Aside from being utterly delicious, it helps soothe the lingering Christmas Eve hangover, as well as preparing you for another evening of over indulgence.
We all know and love a classic British Christmas dinner, but what do we know about what’s eaten on Christmas across Europe and the rest of the world? If you’re anything like us, then not a lot! Let’s change that with a quick look at what families across the world eat at Christmas. Or if you want to take a look backwards at the year, check out our report of 2019’s biggest food trends.
Christmas Dinners in Europe
German Christmas Dinner
A traditional Christmas dinner in Germany usually features duck or goose as the meat. It’s accompanied by sides like red cabbage, apple and sausage stuffing and potato dumplings. Germans celebrate Christmas on the 24th, but they wait until after midday to begin the celebrations.
Drinkswise, Glühwein is a mulled red wine served steaming hot and is popular at Christmas markets. Some opt for a shot of brandy to spice things up even more. Stollen is the much-loved Christmas dessert. It’s a marzipan fruit cake that often contains nuts and different types of dried fruits.
Wigilia – Polish Christmas Dinner
Wigilia, the traditional Polish Christmas Dinner, is also eaten on the 24th of December. Many Poles will fast during the day before feasting in the evening. The main attraction is carp, which is present on plates across central Europe at Christmas. The carp is cooked many different ways, but often breaded and fried.
Tradition dictates that the evening begins with the breaking of the opłatek, which is eaten and shared among the guests. Wigilia often consists of upto 12 dishes, with many Polish families serving Herring, borscht and pierogi. Poles serve fried carp alongside sauerkraut, potatoes or mushrooms as the star of the meal.
Christmas Dinner in Italy
An Italian Christmas dinner differs heavily by region, so there’s no one meal that is eaten across the country at Christmas. Generally, it’s possible to split the tradition between North and South Italy.
In the North, the primo would usually be tortellini in brodo, while poultry would often be the focus of the secondo. In the South, you’d find lasagne, pasta al forno, polpette di carne con sugo and also panettone ripieno, a multi-layered savoury panettone.
One constant is panettone for dessert, which has become popular across Italy on Christmas in recent years. Pandoro is also a popular Christmas dessert in Northern Italy. In the South, dessert may consist of different smaller cakes made from marzipan, along with cannoli, biscuits and other candied fruits. Zeppole – a deep-fried dough ball with cream and powdered sugar that is known by different names across Italy – and struffoli are also popular.
Christmas Dinners across the World
Japanese Christmas Dinner
Christmas isn’t really celebrated in Japan, but there is one food tradition that is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nationwide, families head to KFC on the 24th December for their traditional fried chicken dinner.
One thing is for sure – many families take part in this tradition! The tradition is the result of a marketing campaign that was rolled out in 1974, with a party barrel of fried chicken designed to substitute the turkey eaten in many other countries. It is now so popular that KFC makes up to one third of KFC’s yearly sales in Japan.
Christmas Dinner in the USA
Christmas traditions in the USA have many origins, but the British influences on Christmas dinner are still clear to see. A roasted fowl – often goose, pheasant or duck, as well as turkey – with potatoes and root vegetables are the standard, but many will opt for roast beef or beef wellington. The older British tradition of serving a roasted ham is still popular, especially in the south.