Christmas dinner, everyone knows it's turkey, roasties and sprouts right? Actually, for most of the world it's not, so sit back, pour yourself some mulled wine and get ready for some inspiration as we delve into what makes a Christmas dinner all around the world
The craziest Christmas tradition has to go to Japan. You thought Banzai and Takeshi's Castle were nuts? How about ordering your Christmas dinner in October and queuing to get it? That’s crazy enough...then you see what they are ordering...a KFC! The Japanese don't celebrate Christmas however those clever chaps at KFC in the 1970s started a marketing campaign with “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or “Kentucky for Christmas!” and it’s been popular ever since and many Japanese actually think that this is how the west celebrates Christmas! At every KFC restaurant in Japan you’ll find a life-size Colonel Sanders and during the festive season he is dressed as Santa Claus!
Move over Santa because in Italy it’s actually a witch called Befana who delivers presents to children on the Epiphany (6th January)! But before that there are three important Christmas meals, the first is a family-affair dinner on Christmas Eve where no meat is consumed, instead a light dinner of mixed seafood is eaten – along with some pasta of course! Lunch on Christmas day is the biggie where the family will have antipasto to start, then baked or filled pasta followed by a big meaty main course. A third meal takes place on boxing day where leftovers are eaten and distant relatives are invited. Panettone is also traditionally eaten at Christmas time.
What could be worse than a witch at Christmas time? How about Krampus, who accompanies Santa to punish children who’ve been bad in Austria! He now has worldwide fame thanks to a 2015 horror movie. Children who have been good have Windbäckerei (meringue rings) to look forward to throughout the Christmas season and then on Christmas Eve the main Christmas meal consists of ‘Gebackener Karpfen' (fried carp) followed by 'Weihnachtsbaeckerei' which are little mixed Christmas biscuits.
On 23rd December, Icelanders have their last day of fasting where they have a meal of boiled potatoes and fermented fish! The fish is so stinky it is kept in a jar. Christmas Eve is the start of four days of celebration involving visiting friends, eating out and having fun. Meals over this period traditionally include ‘kjötsúpa’ a meat broth, ptarmigan, puffin or roasted reindeer (poor Rudolph!).
In Germany, presents are exchanged on the 24th December so the 25th December is all about eating roast goose, rabbit or carp with red cabbage as well as lots of sweet dishes including Stollen cake and lebkuchen (gingerbread cake).
Fasting until sunset and then the fun begins. 12 meat free dishes to bring luck for the coming year. Dishes include beetroot soup, pancakes with cabbage or mushroom, dumplings and carp. Traditionally, the carp is brought into the house alive and kept in the bath until time to eat!