Christmas Around the Globe

Christmas Around the Globe

Christmas Around the Globe

NEW HAVEN, United States — Christmas is an exuberant and delightful time of the year, for friends and families, in many countries around the world. This celebration doesn’t just involve travel or the exchange of gifts, but the enjoyment of a variety of dishes. Savour this culinary trip around the world and even try a few of the recipes for yourself at arguably the best time of the year for any foodie.

Le Reveillon in France

The name means “waking” or “waking up” and is so named due to the fact that participating means staying awake long past midnight. While this tradition is French, it’s also celebrated in French-speaking areas like Quebec in Canada and New Orleans in the United States. The dinners actually take place twice, once on Christmas Eve and again on New Year’s Eve. More traditionally the family would attend a midnight mass then return for festivities, while New Year’s Eve reveillon tends to be spent with friends, though it is common enough to spend time with family as well.

Both meals are rich and as opulent as the budget will allow. In fact, many families budget just as much for the meal as they do for the gifts. Common dishes feature items like lobster, oysters, escargot and foie gras. Buche de noel or the yule log is a traditional dessert for this meal. If you’re interested in recreating this tradition in your own home, try out some recipes from About Food.

Sweden’s Risgrynsgröt – Luck in the Almond

During Christmastime Scandinavians in Sweden and Denmark, enjoy a rice pudding or porridge known as Risgrynsgröt in Sweden and Risengrød in Demark. This dessert is served to the family on Christmas Eve, but more traditionally, it was used as an offering to Nisse or Tomte (mischievous household sprites). Just before serving the pudding, a single almond is placed into it. It is believed that whoever finds the almond will be married in the coming year. Leftovers from this dish are set aside and turned into a more sophisticated rice pudding to be served during the Christmas Day meal. If you’d like to make this porridge for yourself, try Swedish Food’s recipe.

Christmas Around the Globe

Risgrynsgrot – Swedish rice pudding

Poland – Fasting and Feasting

The Poles mark the beginning of the Christmas season with Advent and take time daily to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Then, on Christmas Eve everyone fasts and prepares the home for the coming festivities until the first star is seen in the sky. Wigilia (the vigil) is the feast that breaks this traditional fast and is a splendid meal for friends and family. The supper begins by sharing opłatek or a wafer blessed by a priest. Some of the dishes served during the feast are czerwony barszcz (beetroot soup), bigos, kutia and boiled fish, to name a few. After supper, families engage in fortune-telling. If you’d like to try some of these foods for yourself, read more on Polska Foods.

Christmas Around the Globe

Wigilia in Poland

It’s More Somber in Ethiopia

Christmas is celebrated on the Julian calendar in Ethiopia as it is in Greece, Russia and other countries that consider themselves “Eastern Orthodox.” For Ethiopians, Christmas takes place on January 7th and is called Ganna. This very religious holiday starts with a fast on 6th January. At dawn on 7th January, each person dresses in white and enters the church holding a candle. The traditional white robes worn like a toga are called shamma, though in many urban areas, churchgoers wear western clothing that are all white. At church, everyone walks around the church three times while holding the candles and whilst the choir is singing. Then, men and women stand on separate sides of the church for the mass. Christmas gifts are not exchanged in Ethiopia.

Common foods eaten during Ganna are injera, a flat spongy bread and doro wat, a chicken and red pepper paste stew. While gifts are not given during this celebration, many games are played. One such game is played with wooden sticks and is something like hockey.

Ethiopians also celebrate something that most Christians do not. Twelve days from Ganna, on 19th January, Timkat is observed. The three-day holiday commemorates the baptism of Christ.

If you’re curious about injera, doro wat or other Christmas dishes, visit A Spicy Perspective to learn more.

Christmas Around the Globe

Doro Wat

A Turkey Feast Like No Other – Brazil

Many Christmas traditions performed in Brazil come from the Portuguese who settled there. There are Nativity Scenes called presepios and plays called Los Pastores (the Shepherds). Families go to midnight mass called Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster), which is followed by a fireworks display. Children expect to be visited by Papai Noel (Papa Noel) or Bom Velhinho (the Good Old Man) who exchanges stockings for gifts. The Ceia de Natal (the Christmas Turkey Feast) is served with fruits as well as a dressing of giblets and farinha de mandioca. White rice and Brazilian flan are also served. This may sound like a traditional turkey feast, but you’ll find that it has a bit more zest than what you’re used to. Try Tastebook’s recipe for a treat!

Christmas Around the Globe

Turkey Brazil

A Happy Time of the Year

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but the New Year marks a special time for many of us. December and January bring fun and revelry around the world. This list of traditions steeped in history is just the beginning. Food, games and mysticism surround this amazing time of the year. Enjoy the seasonal eats with those close to you and enjoy luck, wealth and health in the New Year!

Interested in some additional meals? The Daily Meal has a few. Tell us about the foods and festivities you’re fond of in the comments section below.

Shire Lyon About the author

Paid Search advertiser by profession and writer by passion. She also owns the blog, It's the Small Stuff, She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication and a Web Design Certificate. Her delight in fine cuisine and new gastronomic trends coupled with her obsession for writing help her bring cuisine trends to an international audience.