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Around the World in 10 Christmas Dishes

As the festive season approaches, different corners of the globe come alive with unique and mouth-watering Christmas traditions.

From traditional family recipes to symbolic culinary delights, here are 10 Christmas foods from around the world.

Italy - Panettone

In Italy, Christmas isn't complete without indulging in a slice of Panettone. This sweet bread, filled with candied fruits and raisins, has become a global favourite. Italians cherish this fluffy treat during festive gatherings, paired with a cup of rich espresso.

This Italian Panettone Recipe from Andrea Tortora is not for the faint of heart, taking over 48 hours to prepare, but you can find Tortora’s signature Christmas treat in most supermarkets - just look for the one in the shiny metal tin!

Japan - KFC Christmas Bucket

A KFC Christmas Bucket may seem an unusual choice for the festive season, but this meal really encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas…Capitalism.

Yes, like Coca Cola and the modern Santa Claus, KFC has managed to turn clever marketing into a Christmas tradition! Since the 70s, many Japanese families have chosen to celebrate Christmas Eve the finger-licking good way.

Mexico - Tamales

Tamales take centre stage in Mexican Christmas celebrations. These steamed bundles of masa dough filled with meats, cheeses, and chilies are a labour of love. Families gather to make and savour these flavourful parcels during the holiday season.

This video from Simply Mamá Cooks, Mum to a blended Korean-Mexican family, shows the whole process, and talks about how this dish makes her feel closer to her Mum at Christmas time.

Sweden - Julskinka

Swedes celebrate with Julskinka, a Christmas ham that takes centre stage on the holiday table. Glazed and baked to perfection, it is often enjoyed with a side of mustard and traditional holiday sides.

In my family, ham is always on the Christmas menu, and most of us prefer it to turkey, but I have the feeling that Julskinka might be just a bit more special…This is certainly an underrated international dish.

Philippines - Lechon

No Filipino Christmas is complete without Lechon, a whole roasted pig.

Although this may be an unusual dish for Western cultures, Lechon is so much more than a pig. It symbolises prosperity and abundance for the coming year.

In fact, countries all over the world engage in food-related traditions designed to kick off the New Year on the best foot - like the Spanish tradition involving eating twelve grapes in a minute!

Greece - Melomakarona

Christmas, for many, is an excuse to eat sweets, but this Greek festive favourite is much more than your Chocolate Orange…

Greeks satisfy their sweet tooth with Melomakarona: honey-dipped cookies infused with spices and topped with crushed walnuts. These festive treats are a staple during the Christmas season, symbolising joy and prosperity for the new year.

Full of warmth and flavour, Melomakarona is the flavour of Christmas in a biscuit.

Jamaica - Sorrel Punch

Jamaican Christmas celebrations include sipping on Sorrel Punch, a refreshing drink made from sorrel petals, ginger, and spices. Often spiked with rum, this crimson beverage adds a tropical twist to the holiday festivities.

If you’re looking to put a twist on the traditional British Christmas, it's well worth swapping your mulled wine or eggnog for a cup of Sorrel Punch!

Poland - Pierogi

Growing up, my little brother had a Polish best friend. He had just moved to our area in the summer, and I remember my brother being baffled that the Polish open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve!

A traditional feast is eaten after sunset, usually after a church service. After the meal, children can open their gifts.

Poland brings Pierogi to the Christmas table; dumplings traditionally filled with sauerkraut, mushrooms, and cheese. Boiled or fried, they are a comforting and beloved dish during the holiday season.

Do you open your gifts in the morning, after dinner, or after the King’s Speech?

Iceland - Hangikjöt

In Iceland, Hangikjöt, or smoked lamb, takes centre stage during Christmas. Families gather to enjoy this delicacy, often served with béchamel sauce and potatoes, for a festive and hearty meal.

India - Christmas Plum Cake

In India, Christmas is synonymous with Plum Cake. Infused with rich spices, soaked in rum, and loaded with dried fruits and nuts, this delightful dessert is a sweet reminder of the multicultural celebrations in the country - just don’t eat it and drive!

These 10 Christmas foods from around the world showcase the diversity of traditions and flavours that make the holiday season a truly global feast.

Whether it's sweet, savoury, or a bit unconventional, these international Christmas dishes all have the potential to bring new flavours to your traditional roast!

I’d love to try the Greeks’ Melomakarona! What will you be tasting this Christmas?

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