7 Interesting Christmas Meals from Around the World

What do people from different countries eat on Christmas Day?

1. Christmas KFC - Japan

We were just as surprised as you to learn about this strange tradition that takes place every Christmas in Japan. Stemming from a series of commercials from the 1970s, KFC convinced a large chunk of the Japanese population that the best food to enjoy with family on Christmas was a delicious bucket of KFC chicken! Indeed, it has become somewhat of a viral trend as to this day, families have to order in advance so that they can get their Christmas KFC delivered on time. Fun fact, [1]"Because about 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC on Christmas Eve, they often need to reserve their meal up to two months in advance." In addition to fried chicken, those who order from KFC for Christmas dinner will also receive a Christmas cake as part of the package. 

2. Feast of the Seven Fishes (Festa dei sette pesci) - Italy 

Italy is such a diverse place that many regions in the country actually have no idea about the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This tradition is thought to have been made popular because of the Roman Catholic belief that abstinence from meat and dairy on Christmas Eve was a must. Thus, fish became a popular alternative. The number seven is also considered to be a holy number in Catholicism and is said to be the reason for requiring seven separate fish dishes to be prepared for this particular feast. Today, the tradition exists in pockets of Italy and in Italian communities in the USA. Meals are usually very filling and encompass a variety of different cooking methods for all seven fish dishes. Other seafood is often thrown into the mix, as well, just for good measure. 

3. Porkkanalaatiko - Finland

Porkkanalaatiko (try saying that three times really fast) is a delicious carrot cake that is one of Finland's most famous Christmas desserts.  Since winters are bitterly cold in Finland -and Christmas falls right in the middle of winter- many Finnish Christmas foods are made specifically to combat the cold. Porkkanalaatiko is wonderfully rich and is usually served nice and warm to fill bellies and to act as a comforting, carroty buffer against the frigid weather.

4. Tamales - Costa Rica

All throughout the month of December, and especially on Christmas Day, Tamales are a staple food that can be found in just about every Costa Rican home. As is the case with most local favorites, every family has their own special recipe for making the perfect tamale. Tamales are usually made by wrapping a banana leaf around meat -usually either pork, chicken or beef- along with other ingredients like onions, raisins, potatoes and garlic. It is definitely possible to find a lot of variations on how Tamales are made, but one thing remains true in each case - they're undeniably delicious!

5. Latkes - Israel

Latkes have been a prominent tradition for centuries now. They are essentially thin potato pancakes that are fried in oil until they attain a golden look and crispy texture. They are often topped with grated garlic or onion so that they can take on a savoury profile. In addition to Latkes, it is common in Israel to eat other fried dishes snacks like fritters or small donuts. 

6. Herring in a Fur Coat (Selyodka pod Shuboy) - Russia

This festive Russian dish certainly looks the part. Bright and vibrant, Herring in a Fur Coat is a rich, creamy salad that's a favourite of Russian households during the Christmas holidays. The salad contains layers of [2] "beets, mayo, potatoes, diced hard boiled eggs and, of course, herring." This salad was made popular by Soviet Jews [3] "on Shabbat and after Yom Kippur, when Jewish rituals had to be practiced in secret." Today, it is a beloved national dish that often goes hand-in-hand with the ushering-in of the new year. 

7. Christmas Barbecue - Australia

While most of the world thinks of wintery wonderlands when envisioning Christmas, December actually falls smack-bang in the summer season for Australia. Rather than fluffy snow, the land down under sees hot sunshine and the type of weather that typically makes it counterintuitive to have traditional roasts and Christmas fare. Instead, Australians often opt to make the most of the weather and enjoy an outdoor Christmas barbecue. Sausages, steaks, veggies and more make up this unconventional, but endearing Christmas pastime.