This Is What Christmas Dinner Looks Like In 25 Countries Around The World
While you’re dreaming of your grandma’s treasured Christmas recipes, you could also gather some holiday meal inspiration from across the globe.
Christmas decor brand Balsam Hill commissioned a project documenting Christmas dinners around the world based on individual families’ meals. They shared photos of their plates along with some of their long-held traditions. From Montenegro to Mexico, check out these beautiful plates and get ready to feel all of the food envy.
“This Christmas we’re eating two sorts of stuffed chicken. The first one is stuffed with ham, cheese and eggs, while the second one is made from vegetables instead of eggs. We serve the chicken with Russian salad, which is made of potatoes, carrots and peas with mayonnaise. There are also ham and cheese sandwiches, salad, some stuffed chicken.We eat a cold dish called vitel toné, made from slices of veal in a creamy tuna sauce. Last but not least, we have empanadas, which are small pies stuffed with meat, flavored with onions and spices and chopped eggs and potato.” — Miguel (Mendoza, Argentina)
“Christmas is special because it is the only time we eat pumpkin.We have eaten pumpkin, called ghapama, at Christmas for centuries. We stuff it with plav, a mixture of rice and raisins, and honey. This is then served with turkey. Everything is cooked lovingly by my Mother.” — Narek (Yerevan, Armenia)
“It’s traditional to have a Christmas barbecue in Australia – it is too hot here for a roast! We always have steak, sausages, chicken skewers and sweet potato as part of a traditional Aussie barbecue. It is 86 degrees Fahrenheit after all! — Charlotte (Sydney, Australia)
“We eat a Chester, which is a special kind of poultry that looks like an overgrown chicken. At Christmas we also eat parmesan rice, pastéis (which are deep-fried parcels of crispy pastry that are filled with melted cheese), minced beef, or creamed heart of palm. For dessert, we have cake and rabanadas, which is made from day-old bread dipped in a bath of eggs and milk that we then fry and serve with a sweet syrup.” — Nathalie (São João de Meriti, Brazil)
“The main course is served with sarma, a special delicacy made from cabbage rolls stuffed with meat. We have vegetable soup as a starter. For the main course we eat roast chicken, served with baked potatoes, onions and carrots. Finally, for dessert, we eat cake and lots of donuts: one is called krafne, which is usually filled with jam, chocolate or marmalade; and the other fruitule, flavored with rum and lemon. My in-laws, my parents, and my wife and I take turns hosting and cooking this meal.” — Vinkovci (Vinkovci, Croatia)
“The best part of Christmas dinner is the pigs in blankets, which I love to dip in the bread sauce.Our main dish is a nut roast, made from bread, apricots, and marmite. We also have carrots, stuffing, mashed swede, sprouts, cranberry sauce, roast parsnips and potatoes. My parents are pescatarians but my mum still roasts a turkey for my grandparents, my brother and I. My parents don’t really drink alcohol so unfortunately there will be only one bottle of wine between 6.” — Leonie (Tunbridge Wells, England)
“Our Christmas meal begins with a bottle of champagne, which we share along with various canapes. The starter tends to be a seafood platter, served with wholemeal bread, butter, homemade mayonnaise and shallot vinegar served with a dry white wine. Then we move onto the red wine to go with our next course, which is turkey or a capon and a mixture of winter vegetables. For dessert, we have a yule log, a huge quantity of chocolate and then we return to the champagne. The meal ends with a cheese board, alongside plates of nuts, fruits, chocolates and more wine, naturally.” — Laurene (Tallinn, Estonia)
“It is customary to eat ham, Finnish swede, carrot and potato casserole. Our Christmas table, or joulupöytä, also features rosolli salad (which is a colorful dish made from diced beetroot, carrots, apple and potato mixed with cream), gravlax (dill-cured salmon) and a leafy green salad. We drink milk, water, red wine and glögg (mulled wine).” — Saana (Tampere, Finland)
“Our first course is a selection of cheeses served with tomatoes and a variety of cold meats. The most festive parts of our meal are the salted jelly and cabbage rolls filled with minced pork meats. After the pork or duck main course, we’ll have a bowl of soup. At the end of the meal we eat a special cake that is similar to panettone.” — Mara (Lyon, France)
“We often eat omo tuo, or rice balls, with chicken and fish in a palm nut soup. Our Christmas meal is special because it takes a lot of effort to make, as the rice balls have to be pounded for a long time. In other years we have eaten fufu, a staple food made from cassava and plantain, with a chicken or goat soup. It’s delicious and we can always go back for more servings. The meal is served around 2 pm after we have been to church. We often open our doors to those in the community who have less than us.” — Isaac (Accra, Ghana)
“We always eat several fish dishes at Christmas since I live in a small fishing village by the sea, along with pork and lamb, potatoes, sauerkraut, various salads, and peas. It is traditional to serve smoked meat and fish, which is my favorite part of the meal because I just love the taste! We drink juice, beer or occasionally wine, and for dessert, there will be gingerbread cookies and tangerines. I just returned home after a year of traveling so the taste of my mom’s familiar cooking is even more delicious.” — Janis (Riga, Latvia)
“My wife and I prepare a range of dishes such as beans, leek pie, dates, boiled chestnuts, and nuts. The most traditional part of the meal is the bread that is baked with a coin hidden inside it. We take turns breaking the bread in search of the coin and whoever finds it receives good fortune for the whole upcoming year.” — Zoran (Skopje, Macedonia)
“We eat food inspired by our Italian and Mexican roots. For the Mexican side, we eat Turkey on Christmas Eve, a special Mexican soup called menudo, a hot beverage called champurrado and fried flour tortillas with a sweet sauce on top for dessert. For the Italian side, we eat bolognese, white lasagne, salmon, cannelloni, panettone and nougat. For dessert, we enjoy profiteroles.” — Karla (Guadalajara, México)
“The main dish on Christmas day is kutia, which is cooked wheat combined with honey, ground poppy seeds, raisins and chopped nuts to symbolize unity. We also eat dumplings called varenyky, beans, legumes, cabbage, and sauerkraut. Pickled whitefish or herring with onion, pickled mushrooms, freshwater fish, a special filled doughnut called pampushky, and a homemade soft drink called uzvar made from dried and fresh fruits, will also be on the table. The meal is made up of twelve dishes, in honor of the Apostles.” — Tanya (Herceg Novi, Montenegro)
“Our main course consists of four dishes, two of which are turkey injected with Pisco and asparagus souffle. For Christmas dinner, we also eat potato salad with bacon, mayonnaise, and turkey stuffing. The stuffing is made from minced chicken, minced beef, ham, raisins, olives, nuts, bread loaf and eggs. For dessert, we eat panettone with hot chocolate.” — Franca (Lima, Peru)
“The centerpiece of the Christmas dinner is lechon, a roasted pig with super crunchy skin that we carve at the table. Other traditional foods are the Christmas ham, keso de bola (our name for edam cheese) and pancit malabon, a dish made from noodles flavored with annatto seeds and cooked with eggs, shrimps and fried pork rind (called chicarón). For dessert we eat a crema de fruta, made from layers of fruit cocktail, sponge cake, custard and jelly; and buko pandan, a jelly made using pandan leaves (a popular tropical plant) and flavored with coconut and cream.” — Raisa (Zamboanga City, Philippines)
“Our main dish is always fried carp, a traditional Christmas meal in Poland. Alongside this are two kinds of dumpling – pierogi ruskie (with cottage cheese and potatoes) and pierogi with mushrooms and cabbage. We also eat borscht (a sour beetroot soup that we serve with little mushroom dumplings) and mushroom soup with noodles. For dessert, there is dried fruit compote, a poppy-seed dessert known as makowiec, gingerbread, walnuts and sunflower seeds.” — Mateusz (Zabrze, Poland)
“Our main dish is cod because our Catholic ancestors were once required to fast and not eat meat during major religious festivals, so many started eating salted cod instead. The cod is served with eggs, potatoes, and greens. Alongside this dish are various desserts such as the Bolo Rei (fruitcake), Pão de Ló (sponge cake), cheeses and sausages, Rabanadas (similar to French toast), and Bilharacos (pumpkin dumplings). These are accompanied by a good port wine.” — Bruno (Estarreja, Portugal)
“For our starter, we eat borscht, a sour beetroot soup served with meatballs. The main dish is usually meat and sometimes fish. But mainly it’s sausages, pork, and chicken. It is more traditional for Romanian families to eat pork for their main dish. For dessert, we usually eat a variety of sponge cakes.” — Alexandra (Bucharest, Romania)
“The buffet will include pasta with pork, cheese, tomato, salads, and sausage. Other dishes include salted fish and grilled chicken with mashed potatoes, and we drink champagne. Olivier salad and dressed herring are the two traditional festive dishes you can find on every table in Russia.” — Yuri (Krasnodar, Russia)
“We have an array of dishes on our table: fish, baked beans and potato salad with onions. The homemade bread is the most traditional part because we bake it with a coin inside and the older people in the family break the bread into pieces while no one is watching. After this, we search through our piece to try and find the coin. It’s so exciting!” — Milos (Pozarevac, Serbia)
“We begin by eating a special sort of wafer, not like the ones from Belgium but a bigger and thinner one that we eat with honey and poppy seed. We eat a special sour cabbage soup called sauerkraut that is cooked with vegetables and sausage. Our main dish is usually fried carp with potato salad. All of our food comes from various traditions so there is a lot to choose from.” — Tomas (Sekule, Slovakia)
“At Christmas, there are 4 courses. For the appetizer, a bottle of red wine and a mixture of Iberian dishes can be found on the table, including cured ham, salchichon, manchego and prawns. Then it’s the noodle soup, followed by the main course of sirloin steak marinated in orange juice and served with blue cheese rolls. For dessert, we typically eat mantecados (a crumbly shortbread), marzipan and turrón (a type of nougat).” — Mar (Andalucia, Spain)
“The dumplings we have for our main dish are served with a mushroom soup, a compote and kutia, which is a Lenten dish made from different types of cooked wheat. Traditionally there should be 12 dishes on the table, one candle and a sprig from the Christmas tree. However, during the famine people modified this tradition to have 12 ingredients on the table, which makes it more convenient for smaller families who cannot eat that much in one sitting!” — Denys (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
“Our main of salmon is accompanied by potatoes and some vegetable-based casseroles. The potatoes are a staple at every holiday because my mother’s side of the family is of Irish descent. There are always three pies for dessert – apple, cherry, and pecan, which are all served with fresh whipped cream.” — Meghan (Mullica Hill, U.S.)
NOTE: The provided quotes have been edited for grammar and clarity.
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