One of the most beautiful things about Christmas is that families and friends get together around the table, grateful for everything in life and being able to be together. And while is some countries it is traditional to have a Christmas Eve dinner and in others to have Christmas lunch, the food that people share is always delicious – we bring you some of the traditional meals from around the world.
Christmas Eve dinner is one of the most important celebration of the year in many Polish homes. On this occasion, usually a 12-course meal is prepared which is enjoyed around the table for hours. Even though the dinner is for the closest family members, there is usually an extra chair around the table for a friend that may stop by. Many of the traditional dishes are included in this luxurious dinner, like mushroom soup and pierogi and it almost always starts with barszc, delicious beetroot soup served with cream.
Favourite traditional Christmas meal in Iceland is most definitely hangikjöt, smoked horse, lamb or mutton meat which is then boiled and sliced very thin. Usually with bread, green peas and potatoes in cream sauce, the dish can be served hot or cold.
Preparing tamales is tradition for a lot of holidays and celebrations in Mexico, and for Christmas they are an absolute must. Made in a corn-based shell, they contain meats, cheeses, or vegetables and are then wrapped up in a corn husk and steamed. Sometimes, in the days leading up to Christmas, families organise a tamale-making party tamalada, which then makes the dining even more enjoyable. After unwrapping all the tamales, the unwrapping of Christmas presents follows!
Christmas is a very special holiday for Italians in Italy and around the world and one of the major events is definitely the Christmas Eve dinner when the family gathers around the table for a traditional dinner celebration known as Festa dei Sette Pesci. As the name says, the menu consists of seven seafood courses, including octopus, carp, mussels and clams. At the end of the dinner, a classic Italian dessert like panettone or homemade tiramisu is served.
Christmas dinner in Finland is usually a colourful buffet called joulupöytä, literally translated it means ‘Christmas table’. Here you can find many delicious dishes, from potato casseroles and, ham to fish and rosolli, salad made with potatoes, carrots, apples, diced beets and cream. For the perfect atmosphere on the cold holiday, one of the typical drinks to enjoy with the dinner is the tasty mulled wine.
Kūčios, a traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve dinner can take days to prepare. Only cold dishes are served like herring in tomato, mushrooms, vegetables and bread and the table is prepared in a special way – a bit of fine hay is spread on the table as a symbol that Jesus was born in a stable, then a pure, white tablecloth is placed with some candles and a bundle of unthreshed rye. One additional plate is set at the table but without the cutlery and with a small candle lit on the plate during the meal – it is believed that the spirit of the deceased family member participates in the festive dinner together with the rest of the family.
There are many dishes included in the Argentinian celebration of Christmas but one that is almost always included is the Italian classic vitel toné, the thin-cut veal slathered with tuna-based cream. Prepared at least a day before, the cold dish is refreshing in the warm December weather of the Southern hemisphere.
Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 7th like other Orthodox countries and have a very special traditional dinner tied to it. The dish, usually served on special occasions and especially on Christmas is called ghapama and not only tastes well but looks great too – roasted pumpkin stuffed with rice, nuts, raisins and honey will make any Christmas table festive!