Most of us are used to a big Christmas meal that includes Turkey or some other kind of roast meat and a lot of roast vegetables, whilst there may be some regional variation across the United States such as Virginia having oysters, ham pie, and fluffy biscuits. However, for the most part, the Christmas dinner is unchanging in its set up so it may surprise you just how much it varies across the globe.
Here we look at some Christmas feasts from around the world and ask you what your favorite might be.
1. The Massive Roast - UK
The traditional Christmas meal usually revolves around an all mighty roast dinner that often has a big turkey as its centerpiece. Not celebrating Thanksgiving like Americans the month before, it is not unusual for this to be the bird of choice although duck and goose can also be common variations on the theme (it would not be out of the ordinary to receive other roast meats either but poultry is the most common option).
The pudding course of a British Christmas dinner may often be Christmas pudding, which dates from medieval England.Trifle, mince pies, Christmas cake, yule log and clootie dumplings (fruit pudding) for dessert in Scotland are also popular.
2. Mezze - Lebanon
In Lebanon, a turkey or chicken is also a traditional meal for Christmas but it is often stuffed with spiced rice. Around this will then be mezze food stuff including hummus, lamb, vegetables and a national salad dish called tabouleh which has tomatoes, parsley, onions and mint in it.
Small pastry parcels filled with bulgur wheat and minced meat also top off the feast and these are called kibbeh pies.
3. Spicy Stew - Ethiopia
Ethiopian Christian are often Orthodox and follow the Julian calendar for their Christmas celebrations. Because of this, they will have a period of fasting on Christmas Eve (6 January), followed by an early mass on Christmas morning before celebrations begin on January the 7th. The Christmas meal that then breaks the fast is called a wat.
This dish is very spicy and involves meat and vegetables scooped up by a sourdough flatbread called injera. This acts as a sort of edible plate on which you devour the whole meal.
4. KFC - Japan
A tradition beginning in 1974, the roots in Japanese people heading to their local fried chicken shop on Christmas Day actually comes from a very successful marketing campaign for the company when Japan’s foreign Christian population couldn’t get their hands on any come December, they settled on the familiar fried chicken brand instead.
The marketing team of KFC then seized upon this and used the ‘kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’ or ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’ was born. Not a national holiday in Japan as its Christian population is in a minority, and so traditions were widely open to interpretation despite Western influence opening the country up to the idea of Christmas. As such, the icon of KFC being a white-bearded gentleman, is often confused for Santa Claus, something the company has encouraged in the country by dressing up all depictions of the icon in Christmas wear during the period.
5. Lychees - Madagascar
With the main part of the Christmas dinner consisting of chicken or pork with rice, the national variations on these are Akoho sy Voanio, a chicken and coconut stew, and Akoho misy Sakamalao, chicken cooked with garlic and ginger. However, expect to see Lychees on tables and market stalls across the country also.
Considered a special Christmas treat in the country, Lychees are found everywhere and included in many dishes at this time of year.
6. Reindeer and Christmas Cookies - Iceland
Icelandic Christmas traditions often see a sort of buffet spread on the actual day with a wide array of food to pick at. These often include festive bakes such as laufabrauð (leaf bread) which is wafer thin bread cut into intricate patterns and then fried. Typically the main dish is smoked lamb but alternatives to this have been growing in popularity.
These can include types of seabird and even reindeer whilst pickled herring, cured salmon, reindeer pâté and smoked puffin are also dishes found on most tables.
7. Salted Cod & Sweet Treats - Brazil
Brazilian cuisine has been widely influenced by other cultures and the Christmas meal is no different with Turkey decorated with local fruits often being the main dish and salted cod, kale, salada de maionese(potato salad with raisins and apple slices), farofa (seasoned and toasted cassava flour), rice and nuts being popular side dishes.
For dessert, the German Christmas cake stollen is often served up or Italian sweet bread panettone can be but mostly it will be the traditional treat of Rabanada, slightly stale bread is dipped in eggs and milk and fried, before being covered in sugar, cinnamon and a spiced port syrup.
8. Surf and Turf - Australia
Due to it being summer in the Southern hemisphere at Christmas time, Australians tend to fire up the barbecue for Christmas dinner and make the most of their plentiful seafood options and fire up the grills for prawns, lobster and crayfish as well as other dishes like steak and chicken with cold meats like turkey and ham also sometimes making an appearance.
The traditional dessert in these parts is the Pavlova, a baked meringue nest filled with whipped cream and decorated with fruits like kiwi, strawberries and passionfruit.
9. Hallaca - Venezuela
One of the oldest food traditions in the country, this dish dates back to colonial times and incorporates European ingredients as well as indigenous ones and is representative of the country's multicultural makeup. Typically involving a mixture of meats with raisins, capers and olives all being wrapped up in cornmeal dough and then folded inside a plantain leaf before being steamed. Unwrap the leaf to consume.
Chicken Salad and a leg of pork are also on most Venezuelan's menus for the big day.
10. Carp - Poland
Rather than a bird for their main meal, Poles opt for a nice fresh carp which they will buy or catch live and then keep alive in the bathtub or a bucket until Christmas day in order to maximize freshness. Descaled and deboned, the fish is then lightly fried in olive oil and served whole as the centerpiece of the meal.
Meals like this are also popular in places like the Czech Republic for Christmas dinner.