Holiday Meals Around the World

Most Americans think of turkey and gravy for our traditional holiday meals. But what are people in other countries eating during Christmas and winter holidays?

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Sicily, Italy

In Sicily, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, also known as The Vigil, is the typical Christmas Eve meal that features a variety of seafood dishes.


Traditional Venezuelan hallacas, which are similar to Mexican tamales, are served around Christmas. Families gather for the task of preparing large batches of the savory meat stews stuffed inside cornmeal dough steamed in plantain leaves. A salad of diced carrots, potatoes and mayonnaise is a typical accompaniment.

South Korea

On New Year’s Day, South Koreans typically celebrate with a traditional meal of Duk Gook, a rice cake soup.


The traditional Christmas meal in Germany includes roast goose with dumplings, red cabbage and stollen, a festive bread made with dried fruits and sprinkled with powdered sugar.


The French celebrate Christmas with a réveillon (long dinner) that features the most luxurious foods including oysters, langoustines and foie gras.

Mallorca, Spain

On Christmas day in Mallorca, the classic dish is Escaldums de Nadal, a stew of turkey or suckling pig, with dried fruits served in an almond-y sauce.

The Phillipines

During Paso (Christmas), Filipinos enjoy lechon (whole roasted pig) or jamon dulce (sweet ham) as part of their Christmas feasts. 


Sweden’s Christmas Julbord, is a smörgåsbord featuring herring, ham, meatballs, sausages, breads, cheeses, and cabbage.


In Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania, the traditional Christmas dinner is a 12-dish spread that includes, herring, sauerkraut, mushrooms and dumplings. A festive red borscht with mushroom dumplings is traditional in Poland.


The typical Chanukkah dinner in Israel includes latkes, potato pancakes deep fried in oil, in a nod to the Chanukah story in which oil that should have lasted only one night instead lasted eight.


As in other Latin countries, Cubans celebrate Noche Bueno or Christmas Eve, with a feast that centers on a whole roast pig. Accompaniments include black beans and rice and fried yuca and plantains.

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