Food is the cornerstone of the holiday season. It brings friends and family together to share memories, cultural traditions and great tasting experiences.
From fig pudding to fruitcake, many foods can provide Christmas cheer – or a bad taste in the mouth. Depending on where you live, foods that are considered a normal part of the holiday party for some may seem downright weird to others.
Here are 15 unique holiday foods that are enjoyed all over the world.
Also known as Yule log, buche de Noël is a sweet dessert served in France at Christmas time.
Although there are many variations, one of the most common types is made with heavy cream, cocoa powder, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. It is commonly decorated with icing sugar and fruit.
Bûche de Noël celebrates the tradition of cutting and burning a specially selected tree trunk known as the Yule trunk. This pagan tradition was introduced to the Christian holiday many centuries ago.
Most people enjoy this dessert between Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year (January 1).
While most countries celebrate Christmas on December 25, Russia is one of the few countries that celebrates this holiday on January 7 according to the Orthodox Julian calendar.
Commonly known as “herring under a fur coat”, shuba is a popular dish served during the holidays in Russia. Its main ingredients include pickled herring, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise and cracked vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes and onions.
The dish got its name from its top layer, which is usually made from mayonnaise or a beet dressing reminiscent of a warm winter coat.
While this may seem like an unconventional dish, it is an excellent source of protein, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A and B (
Similar to Ethiopia’s national dish, doro wat (chicken stew), yebeg wot is a popular lamb stew served during the holiday season.
Weeks before the holidays, farmers are feeding high-calorie lambs. This leads to fat, tender meat, which is added to a stew made from onions, tomatoes, garlic, kibbeh (Ethiopian butter), Berber spice mix and various spices.
Many serve yebeg wot with injera, a popular flatbread.
This dish is a rich source of protein, carbohydrates and antioxidants.
If you think you know how to make the best hot chocolate, try Peru’s spicy hot chocolate.
This creamy hot chocolate with a kick is made with chocolate, condensed or evaporated milk and a combination of spices such as cinnamon, chili powder, cloves and nutmeg.
In fact, this drink is so popular that it has its own event known as la Chocolatadas, where people gather and serve spicy hot chocolate with a popular cake known as panetón.
Also known as chopped pie or Christmas pie, chopped pie is a very popular and historic holiday dessert.
Despite the name, most modern minced pies are meat-free. Traditionally, minced pies were made from shredded beef or mutton, suet, dried fruit and spices.
But most varieties today consist only of pastry dough, dried apples and raisins, distilled spirits, vegetable fat and a spice mixture containing nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.
Interestingly, the pies used to be oblong shaped to represent a manger, although most of the minced pies served today are circular.
During the holiday season, bibingka is a common breakfast product in the Philippines.
Bibingka consists of rice flour or sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar and water wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. Eggs, cheese and coconut flakes are sometimes added as garnish.
This dish is usually served for breakfast or after Simbáng Gabi – a nine-day series of Filipino Catholic Masses up to Christmas.
In fact, it is common to have food stations set up outside the church where churchgoers can buy bibingka and other popular sweets, such as steamed rice cakes known as puto bumbong. Many people enjoy these treats with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
While a typical Canadian diet is similar to a typical American diet, it has a few classic treats in itself.
Butter pies are a Canadian dessert served on many holidays, but mostly during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
These are small cakes with a sweet filling made from butter, sugar, maple or corn syrup, eggs and sometimes walnuts and raisins. Enjoy these pies with a cup of coffee for the ultimate treat.
During Hanukkah, latkes are a delicious staple on most dinner plates. In Hebrew, the dish is known as levivot.
Fried in hot oil is latkes symbolic of the oil that, according to a text that serves as the central source of Jewish religious law, lit the menorah for 8 days despite having only enough oil for 1 day.
Made from the simplest ingredients you can make latkes with grated potato and onion, egg and rasp or matzo. Fry it in hot oil and you even have some delicious latkes.
Other popular Hanukkah treats include sufganiyot (geledonuts), challah (braided bread) and beef breast.
Served at Christmas, hangikjöt is one of the most popular Icelandic holiday foods.
It translates to “hung meat” and involves smoked lamb or mutton. Its name derives from the traditional practice of hanging smoked meat in a smoking shed for weeks to develop a smoky, salty taste.
Hangikjöt is commonly served with green beans, potatoes coated with a white béchamel sauce and side of pickled red cabbage.
Bahn chung is a beloved rice cake enjoyed during Tết (Vietnamese New Year).
This dish is made with sticky rice, pork, mung beans, green onions, fish sauce and spices like salt and pepper.
In addition to its amazing taste, it is placed in front of family altars to pay tribute to ancestors and prayers for the coming year.
Pasteles is a classic Christmas dish in Puerto Rico.
Making pastels requires time and patience. The inner part of the pastels consists of a mixture of minced pork and an adobo-mixed spice sauce. The outer part is made with a special masadej made of cracked green bananas, yautía and spices.
After letting the dough rise for a few hours, the masa is placed on banana leaves, the pork filling is added and it is wrapped.
Traditional Puerto Rican pastels are boiled in hot water and served with rice, meat, fish, pigeon peas and hot sauce for a delicious holiday party.
Eggnog is not a holiday experience around the world. In fact, it is most enjoyed in the United States and Canada.
This drink is made from milk, cream, whipped egg whites, egg yolks and sugar, resulting in a creamy, smooth texture.
Most people enjoy eggnog as an alcoholic beverage by adding rum, bourbon or brandy.
Kutia is a traditional Christmas Eve dish popular with members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. As part of the Julian calendar, Christmas Eve falls on January 6th.
It is usually the first dish served as part of the Sviata Vecheria – a vegetarian feast with 12 dishes in memory of the 12 apostles.
This dish is made from boiled wheat berries, poppy seeds, dried fruit and honey, and it is packed with nutrition, which is an important focus of this Ukrainian feast. In fact, this is quite important for the meal that all guests are expected to have at least one spoonful.
However, it is customary to wait until the first star in the sky appears before digging in.
Also known as Jansson’s temptation, this stew is made from potatoes, onions, whipped cream, breadcrumbs and sprats – a small, oily fish that looks like sardines.
It is usually accompanied by a smorgasbord of food known as “Christmas table”, which translates to “Christmas table” or “Christmas table”. It is enjoyed with foods like baked ham, meatballs, fish, boiled potatoes, cheeses and various cooked vegetables.
The origin of its name is controversial, although many believe it comes from a popular opera singer known as Pelle Janzon.
Christmas cake is a popular dessert all over the world.
It is a type of fruitcake made from flour, eggs, sugar, spices, candied cherries, dried fruit and brandy. Traditional Christmas cake is made for at least 2 months rather than giving enough time to slowly “feed” the cake with brandy every other week. Finally, top it with a marzipan glaze.
Although best known as a British dessert, many countries serve Christmas cake during the holiday season. In fact, South Koreans are known for their beautiful, artistic Christmas cake decorations.
Many cultures celebrate the holiday for various reasons. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year, food plays a central role in celebrations around the world.
From savory entrees to sweet desserts, each culture brings a unique twist to this cozy season.
With the holidays just around the corner, remember to enjoy all the delicious food and memories they will bring.