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FreshPlaza takes a look at how Christmas is celebrated around the world

Christmas is celebrated in different ways around the world and this year we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the different ways it is celebrated.


Christmas in the UK
We all know how much the Brits love their sprouts at Christmas! They are usually served with turkey and stuffing, roast potatoes and other veg such as parsnips and carrots followed by trifle or sweet mince pies. The meal is eaten in the afternoon of the 25th of December. The Christmas dinner is usually a family affair with as many people as can fit around the table.

Christmas in The Netherlands
The Dutch also go for a family affair at Christmas, one typical Dutch tradition is that of 'gourmet, an evening long event where small groups of people sit together around a gourmet-set and use their own little frying pan to cook and season their own food in very small portions of finely chopped vegetables and different types of meats, fish and prawns/shrimps. Everything is accompanied by different salads, fruits and sauces.

Christmas in Spain

In Spanish, Christmas Eve is called "Nochebuena," literally translated as "Good Night." In Spain it is celebrated with a large family feast, which is eaten late in the evening and can last a couple of hours. Here is some of the food eaten: Ham, Cheese and Spanish Chorizo Sausage, Langostinos, Sopa de Pescado y Marisco – Fish and Shellfish Soup Esparragos Blancos: white asparagus with oil and vinegar. Cordero Asado/Roast Lamb, Bacalao a la riojana/Rioja Style Salt Cod, Pavo trufado/turkey stuffed with truffles. After a brief pause to catch your breath and clear the table, dinner continues with dessert or postre. Turrón, Spanish almond candy. Polvorones or almond cookies. Mantecados or Spanish crumble cakes.


Christmas celebrations are becoming more popular in China, mainly in the bigger cities. The most common way to celebrate Christmas is that people go out to do some discount shopping. Christmas celebrations started last week and lots of shops are already giving out discounts. In some shops, the shopkeepers will wear Christmas hats to attract customers.

On the 24th of December, some people will give apples to their friends and family to grant them their best wishes. This is quite a common tradition between students. People will buy apples from gift shops or from fruit shops and wrap the fruit nicely by themselves. On the 25th of December, some cities organise celebrations on city squares and some will put up a Christmas tree. If people are free after work on the 25th they will gather together to celebrate

India people cook a variety of foods, including Biryani with chicken or lamb/mutton, chicken and mutton curry, followed by cake or sweets like Kheer. Long established Christian communities such as Goan Catholics have pork dishes as part of their main course of their Christmas dinner. These include Pork Vindaloo and Sorpatel. For dessert a dish called Bebinca is popular.

Japanese Christmas cake, a white sponge cake covered with cream and decorated with strawberries, is often consumed and Stollen cake, either imported or made locally, is widely available. A successful advertising campaign in the 1970s made eating at KFC around Christmas a national custom. Its chicken meals are so popular during the season that stores take reservations months in advance.

The Lebanese, mostly Christians but also Muslims, celebrate Christmas dinners. The feast, usually on both the night of the 24th and lunch of the 25th, is a big one. Some have the leftovers from the previous nights dinner for the lunch the next day. Traditional offering for Christmas is sugar coated almonds. Family gets together at both meals. Roast turkey is the most common choice of meal. Roasted duck, Lebanese salad (Tabouleh) and pastries such as Honey cake and "Buche De Noël" are also common.

The Christmas dinner in the Philippines is, as per Hispanic tradition, called Noche Buena, and is held towards midnight of December 24. This usually comes after the entire family has attended the late evening Mass called the Misa de Gallo ("Mass of the Rooster"). The centrepiece of the Noche Buena is often the hamón which is usually a cured leg of pork. This is usually served with queso de bola, literally a ball of edam cheese covered in a red wax.


Christmas in Australia and New Zealand
Down Under Christmas usually means lots of lovely stonefruit. They always have cherries, berries and lychees as well as lots of lovely salads with tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and leafy greens with barbecued meat or cold cuts and lots of seafood. Sometimes a roast, but it is usually eaten with salad instead of baked vegetables because it's too hot for that in summer. Because of the hot summer weather you often see families heading for the beach or playing in backyard pools for most of the day.

Christmas in the US and Canada
Most Christmas customs in the United States have been adopted from those in the United Kingdom, though others have come from Italy, France, Scandinavia, and Germany. “The morning of Christmas Day, we spend with our immediate family and extend it to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in the afternoon,” says Richard Butera with Maglio Companies. “We are originally from Italy and value the meals that our grandparents grew up with. Therefore, on Christmas Day we eat traditional Italian food that we don’t necessarily eat throughout the year.” This includes the finest antipasto platters (seafood, prosciutto, salami, capicola, roasted peppers, artichokes, olives, imported cheese and more), gnocchi, Italian meat loaf, and homemade “Nona” meatballs. Because the main meal is quite heavy, the side dishes are lighter and include a salad, broccoli and cauliflower. “Watermelon is a great celebratory fruit for Christmas dessert,” when kept in the “readyripe watermelon solutions-pouch” adds Butera with a smile on his face.

In Brazil, the Christmas meal is quite a feast, served in the evening on 24 December, offering large quantities of food, such as a wide variety of dishes which include fresh vegetables including Couve a Mineira – Kale, highly seasoned with garlic, fruits and Brazil nuts. Accompanying these are bowls of colorful rice and platters filled with ham and fresh salad served with roast turkey. Also some parts of Brazil feature roast pork, roast turkey, and fish. Other Christmas items include a variety of desserts such as lemon tart, Nuts pie, chocolate cake and also Panettone.

On Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), the extended family join together for a dinner of roast turkey, and white rice seasoned with garlic. Roast potatoes and uncooked sweetened apple purée are often served as well. The main dessert is panettone. It is usually accompanied by a cup of thick hot chocolate. Less common desserts include a special marzipan made out of Brazil Nuts and assorted bowls with raisins, peanuts.


South Africa

Christmas is in the summer in South Africa, so many people opt to spend the day outdoors. This is the perfect weather for a braai (barbecue), and often involves getting the whole family to a park, or to the beach to celebrate. If you aren't having a braai, Christmas lunch is very much like the traditional English version, albeit with an African twist. Biltong baked potatoes and Malva pudding are unique to South Africa, and are sometimes found as a replacement of the traditional food on the table at Christmas.
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