Eight Christmas Dishes From Around the World

(Last Updated On: July 13, 2022)

There are plenty of traditions when it comes to Christmas. From decorating the tree and hanging up stockings, to sending cards and singing carols. Yet one of the traditions most eagerly awaited has to be Christmas dinner. No matter where you may live in the world, food always has a key part to play in the festivities. It may just look a little different from what you’re used to back home. To give you an idea, here’s a peak at what eight Christmas dishes from around the world look like.


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KFC, Japan

With only around 1% of the population being Christian, Christmas isn’t an official holiday in Japan. And up until a few decades ago, there were no traditions or celebrations around December 25th.

However in the 1970s, the manager of the first KFC in Japan, Takeshi Okawara, came up with a brilliant marketing plan. Launching an advertising campaign called ‘Kentucky For Christmas’, they presented KFC as the food of choice for Christmas. And the trend quickly caught on.

Nowadays, according to the BBC, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season. Special Christmas dinner deals now feature Christmas cake and sparkling wine, with people ordering weeks in advance to avoid the queues and secure their festive fried chicken.


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Christmas Goose, Germany

Weihnachtsgans or Christmas goose, takes the central spot on the table in Germany, with the oldest known recipe dating back to 1350. It’s served alongside dumplings, gravy, red cabbage and sauerkraut and stuffed with apples, chestnuts, prunes and onions.

It’s tradition in Germany to eat and give gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. And legend has it that those who do not dine well will be haunted by demons.


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Feast of the Seven Fishes, Italy

Christmas dinner in Italy varies from region to region, with no single tradition representing the whole country. However, in some regions of southern Italy and Sicily, and in the Italian-American community, they celebrate with The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

The meal features seven different types of fish prepared in seven different ways. With common choices including calamari and baccala (salted cod). The meal originally stems from a Catholic tradition, whereby Catholics were expected to abstain from eating meat or animal products on Fridays and Holy Days such as Christmas Eve.


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Tamales, Costa Rica

For generations, families in Costa Rica have marked the Christmas season with tamales. A delicious dish consisting of seasoned meat rolled in cornmeal dough and wrapped in plantain leaves.

Whilst it is unclear how the tradition started, tamales are thought to be part of Costa Rica’s national heritage. Each family will have its own recipe and throughout December friends and family members will be invited over to eat.


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Vitel Toné, Argentina

Originally brought to Argentina by Italian immigrants, vitel toné has become one of the country’s most popular Christmas dishes. Served around 10 pm on Christmas Eve, it consists of thinly sliced veal, topped with a creamy tuna and anchovy sauce.

As Christmas falls in the middle of Argentina’s summer, holiday spreads tend to focus on cold appetisers. So if you’re visiting during the festivities, you can also expect to see meat and cheese platters, finger foods and salads.


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Christmas Eve supper, Russia

Advent is a period of fasting in Russia, with supper on Christmas Eve usually consisting of twelve courses in honour of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Families only begin to eat once the first star has been spotted in the night sky, in memory of the Star of Bethlehem.

The meal is typically meatless, with dishes including lenten bread and solyanka, a type of salty vegetable stew. Potatoes, beans, salads, dried fruit and sauerkraut may also be served as part of this mighty feast.


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Chocolatadas, Peru

Christmas isn’t Christmas in Peru without chocolatadas, or hot chocolate. This sweet concoction involves condensed milk, brandy, cream and spices and is a traditional breakfast beverage for many Peruvian families. It’s often served with Panetón, an Italian cake or biscocho breads.

But as well as being a delicious drink, chocolatadas is also an event where people provide home-made hot chocolate, sweetbreads and toys to less privileged children and communities. A Christmas tradition with a difference.


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Pavlova, New Zealand

Similarly to their Aussie neighbours, many New Zealanders tend to have a barbecue for their Christmas dinner. Shrimps, fish or other barbequed meats are served alongside salads, offering a lighter meal during the hot summer weather.

But Christmas in New Zealand would not be complete without dessert. And one of the most popular is pavlova, which consists of meringue with fruit and cream. Interestingly, this sweet treat was named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after she visited Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

Fancy celebrating Christmas in another country and enjoying their festive dishes? Browse our Christmas and New Year group tours.

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