10 Christmas Food Traditions From Around The World

As well as your festive favourites, why not try Christmas food traditions from around the world this year?

With six weeks to go until the big day, chances are you've already put some thought into the Christmas menu. According to a survey of 2,000 Asda customers, our favourite festive munchie is the humble roast potato, followed by carrots, turkey, gravy, stuffing, pigs in blankets, parsnips, sprouts, Christmas pud and Yorkshire pudding. It's the inspiration for our Christmas Roast Dinner Box - a selection of special seasonings to take your traditional Christmas feast to the next level, including Roast Potato Oil, a Pigs In Blankets Dust, a Brussel Sprout Dust and a Roast Turkey Rub. As much as we're looking forward to our traditional roast dinner, we've also been tempted by Christmas food traditions from around the world. Here are some of our favourites that we'd like to see on our Christmas menu.

  1. A distinctly American menu in Japan
    Japanese families enjoy 'Kentucky for Christmas' and head to KFC for an extra special festive feast. The high street fast-food chain ran a promotion in the 1970s to encourage Japanese people to tuck into fried chicken as an alternative to turkey on Christmas Eve and a cultural phenomenon was born. There's not a Bargain Bucket in sight though, as families order weeks in advance to secure the special Christmas menu, which includes sparkling wine and strawberry shortcake.
  2. A special selection of sweets from Sweden
    While the main course in Sweden tends to lean towards fish and pickles, it's the sweet treats that caught our attention. Swedish saffron buns are sweet and often yellow in colour, shaped into an “S” and then baked into their final buttery form. They’re served to the family by the oldest daughter, by tradition, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying your hand at making them, and most importantly, enjoying the end product.
  3. Fish and chips in Portugal
    To celebrate the holiday in Portugal, most people eat variations of codfish and boiled potatoes, not entirely dissimilar to our favourite Friday night treat. They also leave room for plenty of sweet treats, including two types of Christmas cake, Bolo Rei, a nut- and fruit-filled concoction and Bolo Rainha, a variation with no candied fruit, as well as filhoses, fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar, and Broa, small sweets made from egg yolk and sweet potato. 
  4. A perfect panettone from Italy
    Panettone is a delicious cake that hails from Northern Italy and contains candied fruit, chocolate, raisins, and nuts. You'll find rows of them in elaborate fancy paper lining the shelves of bakeries on the approach to Christmas. If you have any leftover, they make a delicious bread and butter pudding!
  5. An extra-long (and delicious) festive season in the Philippines
    The Philippines boastest perhaps the longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols starting as early as September and ending usually around 9 January with the feast of the Black Nazarene. Official observance, however, is from 16 December until the first Sunday of the new year. Their festive menu reflects the country's diverse cultural influences and includes lumpia, roast suckling pig, pasta, cured pork leg and fruit salad.
  6. No turkey in America!
    Well, probably no turkey. Americans have tucked into turkey a month earlier for Thanksgiving, so tend to choose something different for Christmas Day. In areas with a large Jewish population, many families choose to eat Chinese takeout on Christmas Day, as Chinese restaurants tend to remain open.
  7. Roast Chester, not chestnuts, in Brazil
    So, what is a Chester? The centrepiece of the Brazilian festive buffet table, a Chester is a special piece of poultry that doesn't appear much outside of its native Brazil. It's actually a breed of large chicken with a high percentage of breast and thigh meat. The name Chester was chosen to emphasise the bird's particularly large chest.
  8. Enjoy 12 dishes in Eastern Europe
    The tradition of enjoying 12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles continues in many Eastern European countries, including Poland and Lithuania. Meat, eggs and milk are all kept off the table by the regulations of the Nativity Fast practised by the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, and while this fast is not so strictly observed as it once was, one can expect to see a table dominated by fish and grain-based dishes.
  9. Germany has the best festive tipples
    You'll need plenty of roasted meats and dumplings to soak up some of the delicious (and potent) festive booze that abounds in Germany. Anyone who has visited a Christmas market will be familiar with Glühwein, but we love Feuerzangenbowle or “fire tong” punch, a hot mulled wine and rum beverage.
  10. One we'll pass on... whale blubber.
    Not all Christmas food traditions translate well to British palates. A prime example of this is the traditional festive feast of Greenland. The meal consists of mattak, strips of whale blubber encased in whale fat, and “kiviak,” a dish of flesh from auks buried in whole sealskin for several months and served once it begins to decompose. No, we're ok thanks.