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Holiday Food Traditions from Around the World

Every corner of the world celebrates their own unique holiday food traditions. Many of these celebrations are based on ancient traditions that have been passed down through history.

Christmas in Australia can be a bit different from other countries since the weather is very warm. Some families celebrate their Christmas dinner on the beach or by having a picnic. Their traditional meal includes ham, turkey, pork, roasted vegetables and salad. Plum pudding and mince pies are often served for dessert.

The French will usually have their traditional Christmas Eve Dinner following midnight mass. The dinner is called reveillon, the awakening. Meals vary widely according to region and could include roast goose, oysters or turkey. A yule log cake is popular for dessert.

Christmas Eve in Germany is also known as Dickbauch, (fat stomach). Sausages and macaroni salad are often served. Roast goose and Christstollen (special breads with nuts and dried fruit) are favorites for a Christmas Day celebration. Fancy cakes and spiced cookies are served for dessert.

Christmas dinners in Ireland are very basic and can include turkey, ham, stuffing, and potatoes. Favorite holiday desserts are mince pie, pudding and rum sauce. After the table is cleared it is set again and a traditional bread is left overnight as an offering for Mary, Joseph, and the new baby.

In Italy, holiday celebrations almost always consist of a Christmas banquet table. Traditional foods vary according to the region and may include roasted eel, fish, pork or turkey. Favorite sweets, Panettone, (a breadlike cake containing fruit) and Pandoro (golden bread) are popular dessert choices. Ancient Romans often ate honey so that the new year would be "sweet".

Mexicans have a series of feasts starting nine days before Christmas. These special days include candlelight ceremonies and other festivities. For their Christmas Eve dinner, tamales, rice, suckling pig, fish and "atole", a sweet traditional drink are often served.

Christmas dinner in Spain is always eaten after midnight. Turkey with truffles (mushrooms), seafood and roast lamb are favorites for the meal. Turron (a sweet almond nougat), caramel custard, and marzipan are served for dessert.

Christmas celebrations in Sweden begin on December 13, St. Lucia Day. Ginger biscuits and gloog (a mulled wine) are served on this day. Ham, jellied pigs feet, sausages, and cabbage are served for the Christmas feast. Homemade rice porridge is served for dessert.

The holiday feast in Venezuela takes place on Christmas Eve. Pan de jamón, the main course is a bread filled with ham and raisins. Dulce de lechoza, a dessert of green papaya and brown sugar is slow cooked and served cold.

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