These dishes are steeped in tradition and the love and warmth of the holidays, no matter what the ingredients. People from around the world took to Buzzfeed to share what's on the menu at their holiday table, making for a mouthwatering holiday voyage around the globe. Meat is a big trend in many countries, including Denmark where flæskesteg (a pork roast with crackled skin) is served as the main component of the Christmas Eve meal. According to mettekirkk, it's served with “potatoes, warm red cabbage, gravy, small caramelized potatoes, and chips.”
By contrast, it's interesting to see how countries with warmer climates, like New Zealand, differ from the hearty Nordic tables of Finland and Sweden. Let's take a look at some of the plates that make the holidays special in homes around the world.
Check out some of the most interesting Christmas dinner traditions around the world, from a Swedish smörgåsbord to a New Zealand barbecue.
In Switzerland, families gather around the table to enjoy a Fondue Chinoise, where thin slices of meat are dipped with skewers into boiling broth. This particular meal is popular both for Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner.
Gourmetten is the typical holiday meal of the Netherlands, with most families having a “gourmet set” for the occasion. In this tradition, small meats and vegetables are cooked on a tabletop hotplate by the whole family.
While Christmas meals can differ from region to region, the traditional stew pozole is a common feature on the table. Made with hominy and meat—usually pork—it's accompanied by a wide variety of condiments like shredded cabbage, chile peppers, avocado, and lime. There are several different varieties of pozole—white, green, or red.
Tamales are a large part of the traditional Guatemalan Christmas. They can be red (colorado) or black (negro), and are eaten from Christmas Eve through New Year's Eve.
A Swedish holiday feast means julbord, a smörgåsbord consisting of hot and cold dishes like ham, spare ribs, a variety of fish, potatoes, meatballs, and boiled cabbage. In the south, it's typical to also have eel on the menu.
A Slovakian Christmas starts with a big meal on December 24 and continues through Christmas Day. One typical dish is sauerkraut soup with mushrooms eaten on Christmas Eve, with pork being added in on December 25 as meat is placed on the menu.
According to mommagen, the Christmas meal in Botswana is similar to that served at any important occasion—such as a wedding—and consists of rice, salad, and fried chicken.
Millions of people in Japan celebrate Christmas with KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). The fried chicken chain restaurant has almost become synonymous with the holiday. Since the fast-food restaurant first opened in Japan in the 1970s, it has marketed itself around Christmas, creating a unique tradition of eating a bucket of fried chicken with loved ones.
In Venezuela, hallacas are the go-to dish during the Christmas season. Similar to a tamale, it's a corn-stuffed dough filled with meat or seafood, depending on the region. Also on the table is pan de jamón, a bread roll filled with ham, fried bacon, raisins and green olives.
It's only fitting that New Zealander's fire up the barbeque during the holidays, grilling a wide array of goodies and then ending their holiday meal with the meringue-based treat, Pavlova.
Norway's Christmas traditions stretch back to the Vikings, and their holiday meal still shows traces of these origins. “For example, we have a strange thing where we place cod in lye so it becomes jelly-like and then we rinse it, like, 20 times before serving it with melted butter and bacon,” shares gabsfever. “We also eat dried cooked lamb head, and dried lamb rib that's been boiled with sticks for eight or more hours.”
Lanttulaatikko, or rutabaga casserole, is a staple of the Finnish Christmas table. It's made by boiling and mashing rutabaga and mixing in bread crumbs, treacle, egg, and a variety of seasonal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Once baked in the oven, it becomes a favorite side dish to accompany ham or fish.
The traditional Christmas roast in the UK—either turkey, goose, or chicken—is accompanied by myriad sides. From Brussel sprouts to bacon-wrapped sausage and roast carrots, everything is topped with savory gravy.
As part of the traditional Christmas Eve meal in Poland, a clear borscht (beetroot stew) is prepared with mushroom-filled dumplings called uszka. It's one of just 12 plates that comprise the December 24 menu, none of which contain meat.
On Christmas Eve, it's customary for Greek families to prepare a rustic sweetbread called Christopsomo (meaning “Christ's bread”). The dough is filled with raisins, apricots, nuts, cardamom, and cloves, and the top is often decorated with a cross and honey glaze. It becomes a delicious centerpiece on Christmas Day.
In the Philippines, feasting comes at the stroke of midnight according to willievergettoseeyou, “in the Philippines, Noche Buena, the mother of Christmas meals, usually starts at 12 am Christmas Day. Yes, we stay up all Christmas Eve so we can feast come midnight.” The star of the table is the Fiesta ham served with rice and Pinoy-style spaghetti.
On Christmas Day, Icelanders enjoy a dish called Hangikjot, which includes thin-sliced meat made from lamb, mutton, or horse that is smoked over dried sheep's dung and accompanied by a cream sauce.
The Eastern Orthodox community in Armenia celebrates Christmas on January 7 with ghapama—a special roasted pumpkin dish that is stuffed with rice, raisins, and nuts.