20 Countries’ Christmas Feast Traditions

by Ella

As the holiday season approaches, families and friends gather to celebrate Christmas, a time synonymous with joy, warmth, and, of course, delicious food. While the specific dishes may vary from one culture to another, the essence of sharing a festive meal remains a universal tradition. In this expansive exploration, we will delve into the diverse culinary traditions that define Christmas feasts across the globe, highlighting the unique flavors, ingredients, and customs that make this season a gastronomic delight.

20 Countries’ Christmas Feast Traditions

1. United States:

In the United States, Christmas dinners are as varied as the country itself, reflecting the diverse cultural tapestry woven into its history. A classic American Christmas table often features a succulent roast turkey or ham as the centerpiece, accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Eggnog, a rich and creamy beverage, is a popular holiday indulgence, while gingerbread cookies and fruitcakes add a sweet touch to the festivities.


2. United Kingdom:

Across the pond, the United Kingdom embraces its own set of Christmas culinary traditions. A traditional British Christmas dinner typically includes a roast turkey or goose, accompanied by roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and stuffing. Christmas pudding, a dense and spiced fruit dessert, is ceremoniously set ablaze before being served with a dollop of brandy butter. Mince pies, filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices, are a cherished holiday treat enjoyed throughout the season.


3. Italy:

In Italy, the festive season is synonymous with indulgent feasting and culinary craftsmanship. The Italian Christmas Eve feast, known as La Vigilia, often features a seafood extravaganza known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This elaborate meal includes various fish dishes, such as salted cod, shrimp, and calamari. On Christmas Day, Italians indulge in a rich and hearty meal that may include a roast of meats, accompanied by pasta, risotto, and a variety of decadent desserts, such as panettone and torrone.


4. France:

In France, Christmas is a time for savoring exquisite flavors and celebrating the art of gastronomy. The French Christmas table may feature a roast goose, duck, or capon, accompanied by a medley of seasonal vegetables. Oysters, foie gras, and smoked salmon are common festive starters, and the meal concludes with a variety of decadent desserts, including the iconic Bûche de Noël (Yule log cake) and galette des rois (King’s cake) enjoyed throughout the holiday season.


5. Germany:

German Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in hearty and flavorful fare. A festive German Christmas dinner often centers around a roast goose or duck, accompanied by red cabbage, potato dumplings, and sauerkraut. German Christmas markets offer an array of seasonal treats, including bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, and lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread cookies). Stollen, a fruit-filled and marzipan-laden bread, is a beloved Christmas dessert in Germany.

6. Mexico:

In Mexico, Christmas celebrations are infused with vibrant colors and bold flavors. Tamales, a traditional Mexican dish made of masa dough filled with various savory or sweet fillings, are a staple during the holiday season. Bacalao a la Vizcaína, a salted cod stew, is a popular Christmas Eve dish. Ponche, a warm fruit punch, is often enjoyed during posadas, traditional Christmas processions. Sweet tamales, buñuelos (fried dough pastries), and atole (a hot, thick drink) are cherished holiday treats.

7. Scandinavia:

In Scandinavia, where winter nights are long and dark, Christmas is a time to embrace the warmth of hearty and comforting dishes. Scandinavian Christmas tables often feature a variety of fish, including pickled herring and gravlax. A traditional Scandinavian Christmas ham, glazed and adorned with cloves, takes center stage. Rice pudding, gingerbread cookies, and saffron-infused buns known as lussekatter are cherished desserts during the holiday season.

8. Japan:

In Japan, Christmas is celebrated with a unique blend of traditional and modern culinary delights. While Christmas is not a traditional Japanese holiday, the influence of Western customs has led to the adoption of certain festive foods. Fried chicken, particularly from popular fast-food chains, has become a Christmas Eve tradition. Christmas cakes, typically sponge cakes adorned with whipped cream and strawberries, are enjoyed as a sweet and symbolic treat during the holiday season.

9. Australia:

In the Southern Hemisphere, where Christmas falls during the summer months, Australians celebrate with a festive barbecue or outdoor picnic. Seafood, such as prawns and oysters, takes center stage, often accompanied by grilled meats and a variety of salads. Pavlova, a meringue-based dessert topped with fresh fruits, is a popular and refreshing Christmas treat.

10. Brazil:

In Brazil, Christmas is a time for family gatherings and indulgent feasting. The traditional Brazilian Christmas dinner may include a variety of meats, such as roasted turkey, ham, and pork. Farofa, a toasted manioc flour mixture, is a common side dish. Rabanada, a Brazilian version of French toast, and panettone, often served with a creamy custard called “creme de papaya,” are popular Christmas desserts.

11. India:

In India, a country known for its rich culinary diversity, Christmas is celebrated with a fusion of traditional and local flavors. In regions with a Christian population, a festive Christmas dinner might include dishes such as succulent roasted meats, biryanis, and elaborate curries. Christmas sweets like kulkuls, guava cheese, and bebinca are prepared with love and shared among family and friends. The aromatic spices and vibrant colors of Indian cuisine add a unique touch to Christmas festivities.

12. Spain:

In Spain, Christmas is marked by a series of festive meals and culinary traditions. Christmas Eve, known as Nochebuena, often features a grand dinner with family and friends. A centerpiece of the meal may be cochinillo (suckling pig) or cordero (lamb), roasted to perfection. Pescado (fish) is also popular, with bacalao (salted cod) being a common ingredient in various dishes. Turron, a nougat-like sweet, and polvorones, crumbly almond cookies, are enjoyed as Christmas treats.

13. Philippines:

In the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated with a unique blend of indigenous and Western traditions. Noche Buena, the grand Christmas Eve feast, features a plethora of dishes ranging from lechon (roast pig) to hamon (ham) and various pasta and noodle dishes. Bibingka (rice cake), puto bumbong (purple rice cake), and fruit salad are popular desserts. Simbang Gabi, a series of dawn Masses, is followed by a festive breakfast that often includes rice cakes, hot chocolate, and traditional Filipino delicacies.

14. Russia:

In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, following the Julian calendar. The Christmas table is laden with an array of traditional dishes, including zakuski (appetizers), salads, and main courses like roasted meats or fish. Olivier salad, a festive dish made with potatoes, carrots, peas, and mayonnaise, is a staple. Sbiten, a hot spiced drink, helps keep everyone warm during the winter celebrations.

15. South Africa:

In South Africa, Christmas is often celebrated with a braai, a traditional barbecue. Families gather outdoors to grill meats, sausages, and a variety of side dishes. Roosterkoek, a type of bread cooked on the grill, and boerewors (sausage) are popular additions to the festive spread. Malva pudding, a warm and sticky dessert, provides a sweet ending to the Christmas meal.

16. Greece:

In Greece, Christmas is celebrated with a mix of religious traditions and culinary delights. Christmas Eve often features a feast known as Christopsomo, a sweet bread adorned with a cross. Roast lamb or pork may take center stage, accompanied by a variety of side dishes, including Greek salad and spanakopita (spinach pie). Kourabiedes, buttery almond cookies dusted with powdered sugar, are a favorite festive treat.

17. Nigeria:

In Nigeria, Christmas is a time of joyous celebration marked by vibrant street decorations and communal festivities. Families gather for lavish feasts that typically include a variety of traditional dishes such as jollof rice, fried rice, and assorted meats. Pounded yam, egusi soup, and chin chin (fried dough snacks) are also popular additions to the Christmas table. The celebration often extends to the streets with parades, music, and dance.

18. Poland:

In Poland, Christmas Eve, known as Wigilia, is a time for a grand family feast. The centerpiece of the meal is often a meatless dinner featuring dishes such as pierogi (dumplings), barszcz (beetroot soup), and carp. The meal traditionally begins with the sharing of oplatek, a thin wafer, symbolizing unity and good wishes. Makowiec, a poppy seed roll, and pierniki, spiced gingerbread cookies, are enjoyed as festive desserts.

19. Lebanon:

In Lebanon, Christmas is celebrated with a mix of traditional Lebanese dishes and international influences. A festive Christmas dinner might include dishes like kibbeh, grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, and roasted meats. Sweets such as ma’amoul (filled cookies) and baklava are enjoyed as a sweet conclusion to the meal. The festive atmosphere is enhanced by the warm hospitality for which Lebanese culture is known.

20. China:

In China, Christmas is not traditionally celebrated on a large scale, but in urban areas and among the Christian population, festive meals are enjoyed. Christmas dinner may include a mix of Chinese and Western dishes, such as Peking duck, dumplings, and roast meats. Yule log cakes and fruit-based desserts bring a touch of sweetness to the holiday celebrations.


Christmas, with its rich tapestry of cultural traditions, is a time when people around the world come together to celebrate with loved ones and savor the joys of the season. Whether it’s a classic roast in the United States, a seafood feast in Italy, or a barbecue in Australia, the diversity of Christmas menus reflects the unique culinary heritage and flavors of each region. As we embark on this global culinary journey, may the shared experience of festive meals serve as a reminder of the common thread that unites us all during the most wonderful time of the year.



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