Festive Food Traditions from Around the Globe

Real December 17, 2019
Festive Food Traditions from Around the Globe

Christmas traditions vary globally, with almost every country in the world celebrating the holiday in its unique way. Santa Claus, manger scenes, cute snowmen, and Christmas wine gift hampers are stand out aspects of the holiday, but various cultures have very interesting takes on these elements. In Britain and Australia, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, or Santa Claus is the happy gift-bearing, the bespectacled and bearded old man atop a sleigh, who gives gifts to sweet kids. On the other hand, kids in Austria have to ward off the unwanted attention of the Krampus, who, instead of climbing down the chimney to fill stockings with yummy treats, captures naughty kids.

People all over the world also have their diverse lavish food traditions. It is the perfect time of the year to create festive season culinary delights that are rarely served all year round. Thanks to warm, friendly weather, Australians have put a spin on classic British pies filling their Christmas pudding with rich orange flavours that give it a summery twang. It would not be Christmas as usual in the land down under without a carved serving of smoky and sweet ham on your plate too. However, if you want to enjoy unique festive season culinary delights from across the world, the choices are endless. So put away that turkey, say goodbye to that shrimp on the barbie, and adopt one of these wonderful festive food traditions from around the globe.


Christmas is not an officially recognised holiday in Japan, but the Japanese recognise it as a non-religious celebratory time. Besides gift exchanges and hanging lights, the East Asian country’s natives love to feast on fried chicken during Christmas. It does sound odd, however, that the favourite fried chicken of choice for Christmas is Colonel Sander’s own Kentucky Fried Chicken. Talk of the perfect laid-back Christmas dinner feast! In Japan, the demand for KFC goodies is so high during the festive season that meals have to be pre-ordered at least two months in advance.


Christmas feasts find their fullest expression in Italian food culture. In Italy, every region and household adds its twist to the traditional Christmas menu. There are, however, defining characteristics such as fish dishes on Christmas Eve (La Vigilia). Italians generally abstain from meat on Christmas Eve, enjoying the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Roman Catholicism tradition. The most popular of fish dishes on this day is grilled eel, with chillies, olives, and capers. There are also various shellfish, octopus, and cod dishes. However, some families have seven types of fish dishes or more to commemorate the feast. The Christmas dinner is often a lengthy affair that begins with an antipasto board filled to the brim with sun-dried tomatoes, cured meats, Italian cheeses, and olives. You can easily add to the variety on your antipasto board with goodies from wine gift baskets, such as the Luxury Christmas Hamper. Homemade bread garnished with anchovies and caciocavallo cheese is a staple. There is, of course, baked pasta or tortellini in broth dishes, accompanied by various veggie and meat dishes. One specialty of the season is pot roast pork, which can be served in a sticky fig sauce. 

Costa Rica

You can also give your family a taste of tamales, a Costa Rican corn dough base Christmas dish. Every tamale is either wrapped in cornhusk or banana leaf and steamed. These savoury foods can be stuffed with either poultry, beef, or pork potatoes, then filled with raisins, garlic, and onions for flavour.


For dessert, try the La Bûche de Noël, a chocolate buttercream, and sponge cake Yule log look alike. You can also try out its caramel cream, mascarpone, cran-raspberry, or Meyer lemon variants. They will excite your taste buds, especially if you have a sweet tooth.


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