Christmas around the world – 8 surprising Christmas dishes

Christmas is celebrated in many corners of the world, each with unique customs and traditions that bring colour and joy to the festive season. At the heart of these traditions are often Christmas meals. They not only bring families and communities together, but also offer a fascinating window into the culture and history of places.

Here at Dahna, we want to take a global culinary journey and discover some of the world’s most exciting and delicious Christmas dishes.

8 unique Christmas traditions from around the world

Noche Buena – a Filipino tradition

In the Philippines, the Christmas holiday is known as “Noche Buena” (“good night” in Spanish). The traditional meal prepared by Filipinos on this date is a real explosion of tastes and flavours.

A star of the traditional Noche Buena meal is lechon, a whole roast pig, along with queso de bola (Edam cheese) and hamon (Christmas ham). These dishes reflect both Spanish and local cultural influences, creating a unique culinary experience.

Swedish buffet Julbord

In Sweden, the Christmas tradition “Julbord” is a lavish buffet that includes a variety of fish dishes and more.

Specific to this buffet are dishes such as marinated herring and smoked salmon, köttbullar (Swedish meatballs), and julskinka (Christmas ham). This rich meal reflects the importance of fish in the Nordic diet, but also the Swedes’ love of their traditional dishes.

KFC – a Christmas food in Japan

An unexpected Christmas custom in Japan is eating fried chicken from KFC. This tradition began in the 1970s thanks to a successful marketing campaign and has become a holiday staple for many Japanese families, demonstrating the impact of globalization on culinary traditions.

A trip to Italy – Feast of the Seven Fishes

In Italy, especially in the southern regions, the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is a Christmas Eve tradition. This dinner consists of at least seven courses of fish and seafood dishes, symbolizing the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. This feast reflects both the religious importance and the central role of the sea in Italian culture.

Baccala (dried salted cod – an essential part of the Italian meal) and shrimp fried in batter.

Australia – Christmas Barbecue

Due to the warm season in Australia, Christmas is often celebrated with… an outdoor barbecue! Families and friends gather to enjoy seafood, grilled meats, and fresh salads – a relaxed and summery approach to the winter holidays, right?

Mexican “Tamales” at the Christmas Table

In Mexico, one of the most beloved Christmas dishes are tamales. These cornmeal parcels are filled with meat, cheese, or peppers, and cooked in corn husks.

Making tamales is often a family event, where members gather and work together, reflecting fellowship and a spirit of celebration.

“Stollen”, the German Christmas delight

In Germany, ‘Stollen’, a traditional cake with dried fruit, almonds and a generous line of marzipan in the middle, is the star of the Christmas table. This dessert, also known as “Christstollen”, is associated with the winter holidays and is often enjoyed with a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Its presence in German homes at Christmas time dates back to the 15th century.

“Turron” and Spanish festive sweets

In Spain, Christmas celebrations are incomplete without “turron”, a traditional dessert made of honey, sugar, egg white and almonds. Turron varieties can be soft or hard, with each region having its own special version. Along with turron, Spaniards also enjoy other sweets such as polvorones and mantecados.

By Tamorlan – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Dahna wishes you a Merry Christmas with tasty food!

All these Christmas culinary traditions offer an exciting insight into the diversity and cultural richness of the world we live in. Whether it’s an opulent feast or a simple family meal, the way we celebrate Christmas through food reflects the values, history and cultural influences of each nation.

This festive season, let’s take inspiration from these unique culinary traditions and bring a splash of the global Christmas spirit to our tables!

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