Christmas is a time of joy when Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus with songs and good food. It is also a time when we should be more generous and kinder to our friends, family and strangers. We’ve comprised a list of 10 traditional Christmas dishes from around the world for you to enjoy and draw your inspiration, in case you wanted to start a new tradition on this sacred holiday.
10. Köttbullar – Sweden
Köttbullar are Swedish meatballs, the type we’ve all had at Ikea. The Swedes love their meatballs so much that they’re even having them on Christmas day. If you walk in on a typical Swedish family on Christmas day, you’ll also be likely to find julskinka (ham), prinskorv (tiny hot dog sausages), inlagd sill (pickled herring), lutfisk (lye-fish with white gravy), rödkål and grönkål (red cabbage and sour kale, respectively) as a side dish.
9. Flæskesteg – Denmark
The Danes love Christmas and they have plenty of traditions, some even quirky, but their Christmas dinner is quite traditional: flæskesteg (roast pork with cracklings) served with boiled whole potatoes or brunede kartofler (caramelized potatoes), rødkål (pickled red cabbage), all covered in brun sovs (brown sauce). As for beverages, they enjoy gløgg, which is a mulled red wine with sugar and spices.
8. Christmas Ham with Mustard – Finland
Almost every home in Finland will have a Christmas ham with mustard on the big day. They also love Kalkkuna (turkey), pickled herring, liver casserole and potato, carrot or rutabaga casserole. Nothing out of the ordinary here, right?
7. Sarmale – Romania
Sarmale is made from minced pork meat with rice and dill wrapped up in sour cabbage and boiled in tomato sauce for three to four hours and it is a traditional Christmas dish in Romania. There is even a vegetarian replacement made with rice and mushroom that is equally delicious. Another popular Christmas dish is piftie (garlic flavored jelly with pork pieces) – pretty weird, right?
6. Ham – America
A traditional Christmas table in the US will have more food than any of the guests can eat, but that’s OK, there’s plenty of time to eat the leftovers. For Christmas, Americans love ham or prime rib, potato salad, green beans, fudge, apple pie, pumpkin pie, yeast rolls and even macaroni and cheese. A bit of something for everyone! How do you think this compares to other traditional Christmas dishes from around the world?
5. Foie Gras – France
If you don’t know what foie gras is and you love animals, we suggest you stop reading and go straight to number four because you’ll likely be disturbed by what follows. Foie gras is made from the liver of force fed geese. The practice is outlawed in several countries due to its barbarism. The French who don’t like foie gras, serve Smoked Salmon and chapon (roasted chicken) on Christmas day. Yummy sweets include Crêpes (thin pancakes) and Bûche de Noël (a type of Yule log).
4. Halászlé – Hungary
Halászlé is a thick fish soup with plenty tomato sauce, red paprika and wine. Other traditional dishes include stuffed cabbage (similar to the Romanian sarmale, which is understandable, since the two countries are neighbors), roast goose, duck or turkey and mákos guba (bread pudding doused in poppy seeds).
3. Nyama Choma – Kenya
Around Christmas, Kenyans love goat meat just as much as Europeans love pork. A traditional dish in Kenya is nyama choma, roast goat meat with very little seasoning, just salt and pepper. It is usually served without any side-dishes (rarely some vegetables) and eaten off a wooden serving plate.
2. Luwombo – Uganda
Luwombo is a very interesting dish and the most popular Christmas one in Uganda – it is chicken (or another meat that one may prefer), with roughly chopped vegetables and tomatoes steamed (never fried) in banana leaves for about three hours. The sauce for these rolls is made from nuts and it is absolutely delicious.
1. Hamborgarhryggur – Iceland
A hamborgarhryggur, is a smoked and cured rack of pork and a Christmas tradition in Iceland. Its origins are rooted in Danish cuisine, but it is now an Icelandic staple food. When bought, the meat must have a little fat on it, as not to become too dry; it is then boiled with pineapple sauce, red wine and even ketchup (depending on your preferences). After 45 minutes you let it cool, then throw it in the pan to fry with some brown sugar and after 15 minutes, you put it in the oven for another 15 minutes. It sounds delicious, doesn’t it? For families who prefer poultry, there is ptarmigan (game bird) or oven-roasted turkey. Smákökur (small cookies) are served as sweets on Christmas day.
Every family has its own Christmas traditions and dishes they love to make and eat. What is yours? Drop us a line and tell us what you think about these traditional Christmas dishes from around the world.