Christmas is a time when people come together to celebrate with their family and friends, and special Christmas dinners are a big part of that. Often rich and substantial, these traditional meals differ from region to region around the world. If you’re wondering what to eat this Christmas, wonder no longer, as here are some popular Christmas dinner ideas from around the world.

Check Out The Different Christmas Dinners Around The World

1. Australia

christmas dinners around the world
Delicious spread on the table for Xmas

Christmas in Australia is very different in comparison with other countries mainly because it’s summer during Xmas time. Once, traditional English-style roast dinners were popular Christmas fare in Australia, but in recent years, meat or seafood barbecues have become more and more popular; they’re the perfect way to avoid the heat of the oven during hot summers. Sides include cold cuts, oysters, and salads, while dessert may be plum pudding, or the more popular pavlova (made with meringues, whipped cream, and fruits), all served with a cold beer. The most popular tradition is White Christmas, an Australian sweet dessert made with desiccated coconut, dried fruit, and rice bubbles breakfast cereal.

2. Brazil

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Christmas dinners are quite a feast in Brazil. Held on the evening of Christmas Eve, dinner is generally served late at night on Christmas Eve that goes into the early mornings of Christmas Day. Christmas meal usually comprises bacalhau (salt cod) a popular European dish which is usually soaked overnight to take out the excess salt and then rolled into balls and deep fried. Fritters and farofa, along with bowls of colorful rice, sides of fresh vegetables, fruits and Brazil can be seen on the table. The main dish is usually a super-chicken free of bones and ready to roast. Desserts such as lemon tart, nuts pie, rabanadas and panettone are popular. The meal is often accompanied by wine and apple cider. 

3. Denmark

ideas for christmas dinners
Roasted duck with potatoes, red cabbage and sauce, a festive meal on a dark rustic wooden table.

In Denmark, traditional Christmas meals must have flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling), along with sides of warm red cabbage, small caramelized sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, and plenty of gravy. The best part of the meal is the dessert as they really stand out from the rest. No Christmas dinner is complete without dessert. Dessert is often risalamande, a rice pudding with almonds served with whipped cream, almonds, sweet vanilla, and cherry sauce. This pudding can be served either cold or hot. Generally a peeled almond is hidden inside the serving bowl and whoever finds it receives a gift. Everything is served with Ggløgg (mulled wine) and specially brewed Christmas beers.

4. Ethiopia

christmas dinner table

Orthodox tradition in Ethiopia means that Christmas is celebrated on January 7th (which is when Christ was born according to the Julian calendar). So basically Ethiopia celebrates Christmas on January 7th and not December 25th. The festival is known as “Ganna,” and follows a 40-day advent fast that is broken with a feast on Christmas Eve. This usually includes doro wat, a meat and vegetable stew, chicken (that is carved into twelve pieces to honor the apostles). These are served with injera (a thin, spongy bread) and tej, or “honey wine.” Apart from this, dishes such as roasted meats and vegetables, fruit mince pies and puddings along with sides such as yellow rice and raisins, sambals and potato bake are also served.

5. Finland

christmas dinners recipes
traditional Christmas dinner

In Finland, the traditional Christmas dinner is eaten on December 24th (the Christmas Eve) with families and friends. Three most essential dishes, oven-baked ham, rutabaga casserole and mixed beetroot salad are a must on any Finnish Christmas table. The Finnish enjoy a joulupöytä (literally, “Yule table”) that consists of an assortment of traditional foods and is similar to the Swedish julbord. The main dish is usually a Christmas glazed ham, which is eaten with mustard. Other dishes may include lutefisk in butter and white sauce; pickled herring; potato, rutabaga, and carrot casseroles; rosolli, a beet salad; a cold salad; fish dishes; and various sauces. Beverages include glögi (or mulled wine), while for dessert there are gingerbread cookies, plum jam tarts, and kiisseli.  

6. France

popular christmas dinners

Christmas dinners in France are a very grand affair that has a spread of a variety of items. In France, on the evenings preceding Christmas Day, people hold a Le Réveillon. They stay up until midnight and enjoy delicious meals. Appetizers may include lobster, oysters, escargots or foie gras, while the main dish is usually a turkey with chestnuts, and dessert consists of a Yule log (or à bûche de Noël). In Provence, 13 desserts are served which represent the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ. The meal is accompanied by wine and champagne. Don’t be disappointed in not finding cakes and pastries for dessert. Various dried and fresh fruits, candied citrus peel, and almonds and walnuts will compensate for the same.

7. Germany

top christmas dinners
Roast duck with dumplings, red cabbage and apples

German Christmas celebrations start with a simple Christmas Eve dinner, followed by a big multi-course meal on Christmas Day. The main dish at German Christmas dinners is usually roast goose and roast carp (though duck might also be served). Weihnachtsgans, or Christmas goose, is the most important Christmas tradition in Germany. Some believe this tradition made its way to Germany from England, however others think that tradition came from fasting. Sides include roast potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and sometimes a salad. These are followed by a variety of desserts, such as marzipan, lebkuchen (or spice bars), fruitcakes, and fruited breads such as Christstollen and Dresdener Stollen. The most famous of them all is a platter of the cookies called Weihnachtsplätzchen. 

8. Iceland

traditional christmas dinners
A glossy red bauble with the golden shape of Iceland.

Popular Christmas dinners in Iceland have changed greatly with time. Ptarmigan, a game bird which was eaten by poorer families is a popular Christmas dinner dish among all Icelanders today. Christmas dinners in Iceland are generally eaten on Christmas Eve. Common dishes include roast game, (such as reindeer and smoked lamb, also called hangikjöt) or roast fowl (like duck or turkey), served with ham, herring, potatoes, peas, and cabbage. This is accompanied by laufabrauð (or “leaf bread”) made of thin sheets of fried dough, and malt og appelsín, a non-alcoholic drink that’s a mix of malt and orange sodas.

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9. Italy

Christmas dinners
Panettone traditional Italian Christmas cake

Panettone traditional Italian Christmas cake Italy is famous for its delicious Christmas food, which differs quite a bit between the Northern and the Southern regions. People hold a dinner on Christmas Eve, before midnight Mass, as well as one on Christmas Day. The meals start with a primo which is usually a pasta-based soup, followed by a secundo. In Northern Italy, this might be stuffed poultry with a sauce, while in Southern Italy, it is seafood-based, like fried capitone eel. On Christmas Day the seafood is usually swapped for meat-heavy dishes like lasagne alla Bolognese and braciole. Christmas sweets also vary by region. In Northern Italy, you will find the classic Christmas bread, panettone, which is enriched with candied fruits as well as torrone, nougat and nuts; in Southern Italy, you’ll likely find a mix of marzipan, biscuits, zeppole, cannoli, candied fruits. 

10. Jamaica

christmas  treats
Traditional Sliced Honey Glazed Ham Ready for the Holidays

Apart from the elaborate church services, Jamaicans take pride in their cooking and enjoy making their Christmas celebrations a special one by sharing food with their family and friends. Ham, smoked lamb and ptarmigan are the three main meat dishes that every Icelander will eat on Christmas Eve. Jamaican meals include rice and peas, which is served with Christmas ham or curry goat, fried chicken and roast beef. Curried goat is a staple for many and is one of the main dishes at many Jamaican top Christmas dinners. This spicy goat dish is usually served with rice and peas. Sides include baked macaroni and cheese, fried ripe plantains, and potato salad. The food is accompanied by sorrel and white rum. 

11. Japan

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Homemade Kentucky Chicken with Biscuits and Mashed Potatoes

Though Christmas may not be widely celebrated in Japan, Christmas dinner here is still pretty special. Thanks to a festive marketing campaign in the 1970s, Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii (or “Kentucky for Christmas”) has become a firmly established holiday tradition. Families from all over the country head to their local KFC for some festive fried chicken. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families eat fried chicken from the American fast-food chain KFC for Christmas. The Christmas “party barrel” introduced in the festive marketing campaign became so popular that orders are placed up to two months in advance. Japan also has a special Christmas cake, a white sponge cake covered with cream and strawberries.

12. America

best christmas dinners
Group of unrecognizable people toasting with wine during Christmas dinner at dining table.

Christmas in America is a day of joy and happiness where families and friends come together to spend time with one another. Traditional Christmas dinners in America vary from one household to the other. Most of the items resemble the Thanksgiving meal. What Americans love the most is the ham or turkey with stuffing, vegetables and mashed potatoes. Every Thanksgiving or Christmas meal will have all these three in addition to the gravies, pies, roasted beef, cranberry sauce, and mincemeat. For dessert, pumpkin or apple pie, raisin pudding, Christmas pudding, or fruitcake are a must.

Also Read: Delicious Christmas Sweets From Around The World

Though Christmas is celebrated the same way around the globe, the Christmas dinner menu keeps changing from country to country. The most important food to have on your Christmas dinner table is the food you love. So sit down with your loved ones to have your favorite food and make this Christmas dinner one to remember for a lifetime. 

What can you have for Christmas dinner besides turkey?

Chicken and beef are popular items that can be served besides turkey.

What should I serve for Christmas dinner for kids?

Gingerbread, Pizza, Brownies, Krispy buns, pancakes and cupcakes will be a hit among kids.

What is the most popular dinner on Christmas?

Traditional Christmas dinner must haves are turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables.


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