A French roast goose
Aside from the countries and religions where Christmas isn’t observed at all, there are many similarities in how the festival is celebrated in different cultures across the world. In most, an emphasis is placed on spending time with family, friends and neighbours, the sharing or giving of gifts, and consuming some form of special feast. What varies the most, we’ve found, is what that feast is comprised of. Here are some of Peregrine’s favourite Christmas indulgences from around the world.
The French know food. This fact is no better exemplified than in their Christmas meal, which is typically served after midnight mass. Known as Le Réveillon, the late-night meal kicks-off with starters of in the shape of foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon and buckwheat crepes. For the main event, the traditionalists go for a roast goose stuffed full of chestnuts, though beef, lamb and turkey are gaining popularity. Dessert comes in the form of La Buche de Noel - a particularly delectable Yule log. Google it.
Traditional Andean lechon
The centerpiece of a Peruvian Christmas feast is a good, old-fashioned turkey (aside from the Andean regions, where lechon - roast suckling pig – is more common) and it’s usually eaten on 24 December. It’s typically served with fresh fruit, applesauce, salads and tamales. Panettone, flan and marzipan all take the cake (quite literally) for dessert and are usually served alongside a cup of thick hot chocolate. A midnight toast is made and hugs and good wishes for the coming years are shared.
Christmas in Australia is a heated affair. Taking place at the peak of the summer months, Australian Christmas dinners are often held outdoors and consist of a variety of barbecued meats (as well as cold meats) and seafood, which are enjoyed alongside fresh salads. For dessert, Pavlova – meringue filled with whipped cream and fruit - is traditionally on the menu
In Romania, a pig is typically slaughtered on December 20 in memory of St. Ignatius. The meat is then used as the centerpiece for the Christmas dinner, which can be a very impressive affair indeed. Accompanying the pork, it’s common to find homemade pickles, sausage, sarmale (pickled cabbage stuffed with rice and meat) and piftie (gelatinous pork). Leavened bread in the shape of a cross, colaci, is baked and shared with friends and neighbours in the spirit of giving. A raisin and nut-based cake, cozanci holds up the back end of the meal.
Finnish Christmas ham
The Finnish Christmas table, or Joulupöytä, is not uncommon to the Swedish smorgasbord. It features a variety of seasonal dishes, usually centred around a Christmas ham, and is enjoyed alongside mustard and bread. The presence of fish, laatikot, carreroles, potatoes, rice, carrots and other such foods is also common.
A typical Nocha Buena
Christmas celebrations in the Philippines are renowned as being some of the worlds finest. Nine consecutive dawn masses begin on December 16, during which street vendors sell their produce to hungry celebrants. The main meal, Nocha Buena, occurs after midnight mass and consists of around a dozen dishes. Cured or roasted pork takes centre stage, whilst oxtail stew and Edam cheese, peculiarly, are also part of proceedings. A desert of sticky rice, peanut butter, coconut and fried coconut milk curd known as kalamay is also a staple.
Special mention: Ghana Unlike other countries where Christmas is celebrated with one or two traditional meal staples, Ghanaians celebrate by encompassing everyone’s favourite year-round dishes. That sounds like a pretty fair deal to us.