Foods and Holidays Around the World

There are many holidays celebrated by different nations across the globe such as Christmas and New Year. During these times, most of us get a day off from work to celebrate and spend time with our loved ones. It is our time to come together as a community as well and to give thanks. One of the ways to celebrate holidays is by serving foods. It’s because good food at its best is a shared experience and it seems like foods served in holidays are the ones that bind culture together.

Even though different countries celebrate the same holidays, food traditions may differ from place to place. There are places where they serve mince pies on Christmas while in other places, this celebration will not be complete without a fruit cake and fried chicken. The seasonal delicacies you enjoy during these holidays may be savory, sweet, or a combination of both depending on where you grew up. 

Today, we are giving you different food and holidays around the world for us to know what traditional foods are being served in different countries. 

Bahn Chung in Vietnam

During New Year’s Eve in Vietnam, one of the most important foods they serve and eat is Bahn chung. It is a large rice cake that contains layers of pork, mung bean, and other ingredients which are encased in a thick layer of soft, sticky rice. It is wrapped in the leaves of a giant bamboo called la dong but banana leaves can also be used as an alternative. 

Bahn chung is square in shape and it is usually served at New Year’s celebrations together with pickled vegetables. It is also similar to another type of rice cake eaten during the holidays which is called banh day but that is round in shape. 

Latkes in Israel

One of the holidays celebrated in Israel is Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights. It is a Jewish holiday that celebrates a miracle based on the Old Testament in the Bible that says one night’s worth of oil lasted for eight nights. There are many foods that are traditionally eaten during Hanukkah and most of them are fried in oil. One of those foods is latkes. They can be fried jelly doughnuts, potato, or can be served with applesauce or any sweet topping as well. If you’re curious about this food, you can find its recipe here

Kimchi and Dduk Gook in Korea

Kimchi is one of the most popular foods in Korea and it is eaten any time of the year. A holiday in Korea will not be complete if it is not present. It is made of cabbage but can also be made using cucumbers and turnips. New Year is also one of the biggest celebrations in Korea as it follows the Chinese calendar. During this time, Koreans serve a festive meal which includes kimchi together with a rice cake soup that they call dduk gook and an assortment of vegetable sides. 

Mince Pies in England

During Christmastime, mince pies are enjoyed in England and it started in the 13th century. This traditional food began when fighters returning from the Crusades brought back new and exotic spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. These spices were used by British cooks to create different dishes including pies which are filled with mincemeat and dried fruits. Over time, the size and fillings of these pies have changed but for many centuries up until now, mince pies are still being enjoyed as a Christmas treat in England. If you want to see how it’s done, you can check its recipe here

Roasted Pig or Lechon in The Philippines

During Christmas, a whole roasted pig called lechon is usually the centerpiece of an elaborate meal. Aside from Christmas, there are also many festivities in this country that are celebrated by roasting pigs. The Christmas season here begins on December 16 continuing through Christmas Day. After mass on Christmas Eve, lots of delectable choices are served on the big holiday meal with the roasted pig as the centerpiece. Aside from that, other meals are also served such as oxtail stew, queso de bola, and leche flan. 

Bûche de Noël in France

Bûche de Noël or branch of Christmas in English is a cake similar to Yule Log. It is a cake that is rolled and filled to make it look like a log. It is also usually decorated with mushroom-shaped meringue so that it will look like the forest floor. Chestnut is the most popular flavor of this cake but you can also find them in different flavors around France and different countries as well. This cake is traditionally served in France after the Christmas Eve midnight mass. 

Fruitcake in the United States

Fruitcake is a popular dessert served in the United States during Christmas. Based on history, it is displayed for prosperity and it is usually served at special events because it is made of expensive ingredients such as dried fruit and nuts. However, it is no longer a way to display wealth in the present time, but it is still a tradition to serve or give fruitcakes every Christmas. 

Lentils in Italy

In Italy, they call New Year’s Eve as “La Festa di San Silvestro” or St. Sylvester’s Feast. During this time, families and friends in Italy celebrate by sharing a massive meal together and lentils are one of the traditional foods you will see there. Legumes symbolize money and prosperity for Italians. This is the reason why during the New Year, they eat lots of them in hopes of bringing themselves wealth and success in the coming year. If you want to try this tradition, you can check out its recipe here

Fish in Sicily

In Sicily and Southern Italy, Christmas means the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It is the Roman Catholics tradition in the region to fast on Christmas Eve then they will celebrate a feast of seven seafood dishes at the end of the day to celebrate the area’s bounty. This is also done on the eves of special holidays as well as on Fridays and during Lent. The kinds of seafood they serve are usually fried or cooked in oil. Some of the popular choices are salted codfish, fried smelt, and calamari and each burst with classic Italian flavors. 

Kutya in Ukraine

During the Christmas holiday, the adherents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine must stick to a strict diet excluding many foods enjoyed around the world such as those containing sugar, meat, and fat. Their holiday dinner should adhere to certain guidelines and this includes serving special foods like kutya. This dish contains ingredients such as wheat, nuts, and poppy seeds, and is sweetened with honey. Aside from that, this dish cannot be eaten until the first star appears in the night sky. 

Melomakarona in Greece

In Greece, Christmas is a major celebration and they celebrate it in many ways. Religious Greeks practice fasting before Christmas and when the feast day arrives, they will go all out. Melomakarona is one of the traditional sweet desserts served in Greece. It is a honey-soaked cookie that is topped with ground walnuts and served on Christmas Day after breaking fast. 

Saffron Buns in Sweden

The Christmas season in Sweden starts on December 13. They also celebrate St. Lucia’s Day where the eldest daughter will wear a white gown tied with a red sash and a crown of lit candles. While in this outfit, she will wake up her parents with hot coffee and a tray of saffron buns. If you want to try making some saffron buns, you can check its recipe here. It is also best when lightly spread with butter and served with tea. 

Babka in Poland

Babka is one of the popular holiday desserts in Poland. It is a sweet bread that is ever-present during the Christmas season. It is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve after a long day of fasting. There are also Polish families who make extra babka for a lone wanderer who might happen to pass through during the Christmas Eve dinner. That extra one is usually meatless and is made of other staples such as boiled potatoes and beet soup. 

Fried Chicken in Japan

Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan. In fact, there are about 3.6 million Japanese families who eat KFC on Christmas Eve and they need to reserve their meal at least two months in advance. You may be wondering how this tradition began. 

Well, during the 1970s, KFC put together a holiday party bucket. Since Japan didn’t have many traditions for Christmas during those times, they filled the void by telling customers that the party bucket is something they should do on Christmas. That trend quickly caught on. This is also the reason why the KFC Christmas bucket also includes a Christmas cake which is another important food item in Japan during the holidays.

Christmas Goose in Germany

The Christmas feast in Germany is centered around the Christmas goose. Back to the Middle Ages, it has been a tradition to eat goose which was tied to St. Martin’s Day but it eventually became part of the Christmas feast or meal. The goose served in Germany is usually stuffed with apples, onions, prunes, and chestnuts. It is spiced with marjoram and mugwort and served together with dumplings, red cabbage, and gravy. If you want to learn how to cook this Christmas goose dish in Germany, you can check it out here

These are some of the foods being enjoyed during the holidays in different parts of the world. It’s amazing to know that different nations have their own way of celebrating the same holidays. And aside from that, we have our own different staple foods that come with those celebrations. If you are also looking for appetizers to serve on Christmas, you can check out our Ideas for Cute Christmas Appetizers for options.