Christmas Around The World



As December is in Africa’s summer, Christmas dinner is typically eaten outside. In South Africa they pay homage to tradition with roast beef and turkey, suckling pig and local delicacies such as yellow rice with raisins. For afters, plum pudding and paper hats are the order of the day. In Ghana, they feast on rice and fufu, a yam paste, together with okra soup, porridge and assorted meats.


I would write these dishes in Norwegian but I’d only do them an injustice by failing to correctly note all of the accents. Nonetheless, Christmas in Norway sounds pretty tasty – mulled wine washes down whole roast pork ribs, sweet and sour red cabbage, meatballs, ginger and black pepper-spiced cookies, and national dishes such as lutefisk, a preserved fish with lye (a corrosive alkaline substance) that has been washed and boiled. To make lutefisk safe for human consumption, it needs several days of soaking in cold water because of the high pH value found in lye.


Mains in Spain consist of roasted meats such as turkey and lamb with seafood like lobster and crab. Things sweeten up with yema, an egg-based dessert, and King Cake known as roscón de Reyes (tortell in Catalan). King Cake is, it’s fair to say, a crazy cake. History has it that the cake takes its name from the three Kings; Catholic tradition says that their journey to Bethlehem took five days and that they arrived to honour Jesus on Epiphany. The season for the cake extends from the twelve days of Christmas through to Mardi Gras day. Famous admirers of the cake include Samuel Pepys who wrote: “we had a brave cake brought us.”


Portuguese Christmas food sounds pretty funky. Bacalhau (cod), cabrito assado (roast goat) and polvo cozido (boiled octopus) only scratch the surface with Bolo-Rei de Chocolate (literally translated as Chocolate King Cake) sounding the most challenging; there are three levels of bolo-rei (King Cake). The first is just a simple fruitcake, the second (bolo-rei Escangalhado) is similar but with the addition of cinnamon and chilacayote jam. Then we get to the last stage which contains the jam, nuts, raisins and, instead of fruit, chocolate chips. And lots of them.


German markets spring up all over Britain in December and many of them offer Christstollen (a fruitcake), Weisswurst (sausages with bacon and things like lemon, parsley and cardamom) and roasted goose.


This isn’t verified but according to Wikipedia, it is very common in Japan for orders of KFC fried chicken to be placed months in advance such is the shortage of turkey.


The French often bring out the big guns for Christmas; oysters, foie gras and smoked salmon are merely light snacks before the 13 desserts that are made in Provence. These dishes – quince cheese (jelly), walnut cake, almond cake, raisin cake, casse-dents of Allauch (a biscuit), calisson of Aix-en-Provence (a traditional French sweet), nougat blanc and noir au miel, apple cake, pear tart, orange cake, winter melon and fougasse (a Provencal bread) – are representatives of Jesus and his twelve apostles.


Christmas Eve in Denmark is celebrated through the night and to help the festivities along, they eat dishes such as prune-stuffed goose, fried pastries and cinnamon flavoured rice pudding, commonly known as Grod.


A Canadian Christmas pays homage to several different delicacies – the American pumpkin pie, quintessentially British trifle and unusually, satsumas. All of this is washed down by apple cider and eggnog.


About Author

I'm a 21-year-old student in my final year of an English Literature degree. I'm currently the food and drink editor for the paper because of my passion for all things food related. Following on from an essay on George Orwell's portrayal of food, I'll soon be starting my dissertation on the use of food in literature set in 1920s Paris. Feel free to send me an email if there's a restaurant, café or bar in North Wales that you've particularly enjoyed and I'll be sure to check it out.

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