Weird and wonderful traditional Christmas foods

Weird and wonderful traditional Christmas foods

2nd January, 2013

Firstly a very Happy New Year to you all, i’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and feedback on my blog over the last year.

Last time, in our expat Christmas survival guide, I touched briefly on traditional Christmas foods and how you can either stick to what you’re used to, take the plunge and follow your new country’s example or create a fusion of the two. So I thought it would be interesting to look at Christmas food traditions from around the world, to give you a flavour of what other people cooked during the holiday.

A British Christmas dinner

In Britain people tend to go for turkey, often buying a bird so big that it lasts for a week or more after Christmas Day. Leftover turkey recipes are a running joke loved by millions and even though we complain about it year on year, the tradition is strong enough to keep coming back. Christmas turkey is usually served with roast and mashed potatoes, Yorkshire Puddings (made from the same kind of batter used for pancakes) and a variety of vegetables including Brussels sprouts. Oddly, most Brits seem to dislike sprouts intensely but they remain on the menu despite being one of the least popular vegetables in the country!

A Norwegian Christmas feast

Norwegians enjoy a fascinating spread of traditional Christmas dishes including Ribbe or roasted pork belly, served with sauerkraut and boiled spuds. Pinnekjøtt, which is salted and dried lamb ribs, traditionally smoked over birch branches. Lutefisk or Stockfish, left to cure in water and lye, is another and Torsk, fresh cod, is popular on Christmas Eve. Some Norwegians also eat turkey, usually served with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, apples, grapes / prunes and a Port sauce, a little like a sweet and sour version of the British Christmas meal. They also adore a Christmas ham, either eaten cold or roasted.

Mexican Christmas treats

Mexicans treat Christmas like a carnival, a colourful and vibrant experience that culminates in a huge feast of traditional Mexican foods including tamales (a hot chilli corn wrap popular throughout Latin America), rice, green chillies stuffed with cheese, AKA Rellenos, and the popular sweet drink Atole.

Brazilian Christmas lunch

Moving further south, Brazil’s Christmas celebrations are also marked with a feast, rich in fresh vegetables seasoned with garlic, exotic fruits and Brazil nuts, flavoured rice dishes, ham, salad and roasted turkey, pork, chicken and fish. Popular desserts include lemon tart, nuts pie, chocolate cake and Panettone, a sweet bread loaf.

Japanese Christmas food

The Japanese have celebrated Christmas since the 1930s and their Xmas meal has a Western feel. Oddly enough because the Colonel Sanders character that signifies the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand bears a certain similarity to Santa Claus, many Japanese head for the fast food restaurant for Christmas lunch, finishing the meal off with a more traditional desert, strawberry shortcake.

Christmas dinner in Iceland

In Iceland there’s a wide variety of seasonal dishes including the very popular Hamborgarhryggur, which while it sounds like ‘hamburger’ is actually a type of gammon steak. They also enjoy reindeer, ptarmigan (a game bird also found in Scotland) and smoked lamb, called Hangikjöt. And they’re big on duck and turkey steaks too.

Enjoy our in-depth expat country guides

For more information about enjoying your new expat life to the full, download our free eBook, The New Expat. It’s full of useful information about medical and family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and more.

We also release a handful of fresh Country Guides every month, each packed with country-specific information to help you make the most of your new home. This month’s new guides include MalaysiaSouth Korea and Netherlands.

What did Christmas lunch involve in your home country?

We would love to share your Christmas culinary traditions with us. What do you usually eat in your home country? And what did you cook for Christmas day in your new country this year?

Leave a comment below, connect with us on @now_health on Twitter or on the Now Health Facebook page.


Image source: omnia_mutantur

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

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