What Christmas Dinner Looks Like Around The World

December 7, 2017

You sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner every November and then when Christmas rolls around you fill your plate with much of the same… but, have you ever wondered what everyone else is sitting down to eat on Christmas day? I know I have, check out what everyone else is enjoying Christmas dinner.


As the tradition goes in Mexico the Christmas dinner is usually eaten on Christmas Eve and later on. It generally consists of a Mexican Christmas Salad to start and features dried codfish in a tomato sauce, turkey with mole sauce, and a hot fruit punch. We can’t forget dessert, though, which is a fried dessert topped with sugar.

You may even find Mexicans smashing their dinner plate after which is intended to invite good luck for the coming year.


As we all know Christmas falls during Australian summer so it should come as no surprise that the Aussies are barbecuing! That generally means lobster and prawns are grilled and in addition to vegetables, there is a roast turkey. The typical Christmas dessert includes plum pudding and the delicious pavlova. Of course, the traditional dishes do vary by region, some will include more seafood than others. Before you can start dinner, though, you need to pop your Christmas crackers and get your paper hat on!



As Iceland is surrounded by water and their general diet includes a lot of seafood, so does their traditional Christmas dinner. It’s cold there, too, so they enjoy a lot of their produce pickled or dried. The 23rd of December is a big day on the Icelandic calendar as this is when they honor their patron saint, Thorlak. This is when fermented fish is served and because of the smell smoked lamb is often cooked the following day, and this is when the traditional Christmas dinner is served. In addition to lamb, it’s traditional to serve reindeer, lobster bisque, puffin, beetroot, and potatoes that have been caramel glazed. Finish with rice pudding.


Like Mexico, Italians also enjoy dried and salted fish, and that’s not the only seafood on the menu. There’s also squid, shrimp, pasta with calms, a fish stew, and to finish cannoli and sorbet. If you’re not a big fan of seafood then you may want to avoid an Italian Christmas. The big meal is held on Christmas Eve and many families follow the custom of making 12 dishes (all seafood) to honor all of Jesus’ disciples. So, you may find dishes like octopus and eel on the menu.


The centerpiece of a Swedish table is ham which has been boiled and then glazed with breadcrumbs, eggs, and mustard. It’s customary to keep the ham broth as a dip for big pieces of bread. Throw in boiled fish, a selection of meats that are either pickled, smoked or cured and cabbage syrup and you have a traditional Swedish Christmas. Don’t forget the mulled wine.


Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an American nation, but they celebrate Christmas just a bit differently. Their national dish is suckling pig and as it’s roasted it will need the complete attention of two family members. The spit roast starts from around 2 in the morning. There’s also eggnog, but in Puerto Rico, it’s served in a coconut shell and made with rum, coconut milk, and condensed milk.


The feast generally occurs on Christmas Eve and includes boiled potatoes and cod, but the biggest draw… the pastries. There are all different types of pastries and sweets available and many of them feature raisins, honey, and nuts along with icing sugar and spiced dough.


This one may come as a surprise to you, but as it turns out the Japanese are fond of enjoying KFC come Christmas. In fact, they are so fond of it that the fast food eatery takes reservations months in advance. The company ran an advertising campaign in the 1970s that attracted the attention of well, everyone. So, don’t be surprised if you’re visiting Japan and everyone is huddled in a KFC.


Eastern Europe

Countries like Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania have a similar approach to the big gay and it generally revolves around 12 dishes, eaten on Christmas Eve. Those who practice Orthodox Catholicism avoid milk, eggs, and meat so a lot of the dishes are grain and fish based.


For anyone with a sweet tooth… there’s the giant gingerbread house that is covered in candies and icing sugar. For everyone else (or both) there’s the spiced kale stew. Legend has it that every granny across Germany has her very own special recipe. The main is generally a roasted goose, red cabbage, dumplings, and kale stew. Of course, there’s also smoked sausage.

American Jews

You know that the Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah, but what do they eat on Christmas? Everyone is different, of course, but there has been a tradition for many that sees them heading to Chinatown to local restaurants. While everything else may be closed on Christmas Day you are likely to find that a Chinese restaurant is open.