From le reveillon, to la vigilia: Christmas dinners around the globe

If movies, magazines spreads, and TV shows are to be believed, Christmas dinners all over the globe are identical. They include turkey, trimmings, and – unless very lucky – terse conversations with tense family members!

Pop culture may be right to suggest that festive meals are spent on a variety of mismatched seats – inconsistent in size, shape, and strength – but we don’t eat identical dishes during the holidays while trying to stay steady on our chairs.

Although we may all have similar seating arrangements, Christmas is a special time of year that everyone enjoys.

Cheers! | Source: Stock image

What other nations include in traditional Christmas meals?

Simply put, what’s everyone eating during the holiday season? What is everyone else’s Christmas menu year after year?

The answer to this question is complex and varied, depending on where you are from, but we will be focusing on the most popular festive dishes in Italy, France, and Spain. During the holiday season

It’s time to learn about the Christmas cuisines of different countries, from buche de Noel to Italy, and pezzetti to Italy.

Yes, you will be hungry after reading the following – but don’t think you were not warned!

How do Italian Christmas dishes compare?

Many people assume that Christmas dinner is on December 25th. However, the Italians kick off the festive season with a feast on Christmas Eve.

La Vigilia is a meat-free meal that consists mainly of fish, vegetables and other foods. The 24th of July is when you can abstain from meat. Instead, you will enjoy baccala and octopus as well as shellfish.

In Rome, families tuck into pezzetti – a much-loved local speciality. Fried cubes made of ricotta are often served with pieces of artichokes or zucchini. In Naples, families start their Christmas Eve meal by having a starter of seafood and brocolli. Many families in Italy have a range of dishes that can be served from seven to 20.

Italians add meat to their Christmas dinner on December 25, after a meal of fish the night before. Christmas lunch starts with pasta in brodo, or pasta in broth. Unlike days past when eel was a predominant ingredient on many tables, today’s Italians prefer to serve roast meat, or in some cases stuffed turkey.

Italian families allow sweet Christmas breads to be made during the holiday season. Each one has its own characteristics. Some rely heavily on ginger while others rely on fruit and spices. Others are served with cream, gelato, or both.

BaccalĂ  in a tomato sauce | Source Wikimedia Common

If you’re a fan of the Italian Christmas meal, why not take our food tour to Venice and get your own personal taster? You’ll find everything you need, from the best fresh fish ravioli to the best baccala, in Venice.

What does traditional Christmas food look like in France?

Le reveillon is the French Christmas main meal. It is usually eaten late on Christmas Eve and ends in the early hours of Christmas Morning. The French version of Christmas Eve is much meatier than the one in Italy.

Yule log on the wooden board | Source: Stock image

Families enjoy a delicious starter that includes foie gras and escargots as well as caviar, oysters and bread. Depending on where you live, your main course will probably include turkey, duck, or ham with chestnut stuffing.

Have you ever heard that French families indulge in thirteen desserts on Christmas Eve! It might be a French tradition, but it is more common to find a traditional Buche de Noel, a sponge-covered cake that has been rolled into a circular shape to give the appearance of a log, on France’s festive tables.

What does Spain’s traditional Christmas menu look like?

Christmas Eve is the day when Spanish families gather to enjoy a delicious meal and celebrate the holiday season. It’s December 24th! Is there a pattern? The meal, just as in France is long and allows you to linger between each course.

Unsurprisingly, La Noche Buena’s festive meal begins with a tapas spread that includes a variety seafood such as tuna tartare and shrimp. You will also find traditional tapas like cheese, olives and ham.

Slices of turron on the wooden board | Source: Stock image

Fish is a popular main course in many Spanish Christmas meals. Many Spanish households also prefer roast meat. In many cases, they choose lamb or suckling porc. The festive meal is complete with a selection of potatoes, salads, and breads.

Almonds and marzipan are the foundation of many desserts. In Spain, Christmas desserts include sugared cookies called mantecados, shortbread cookies called polvorones and sweets called turron.

Walks of Italy is an expert in Italy, but also has a wealth of knowledge about other cities. Take our Barcelona Eat Around Food Tour, or enjoy a Luxury Champagne Daytrip from Paris.

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What does traditional Christmas food look like in Greece

As in many other countries, the traditional Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve in Greece. However, there are plenty more days during the festive season that are dedicated to celebrating meals.

Christmas Veal with fruit and nuts

In Greece, few festive meals can be considered complete without Christopsomo, a bread known as Christ’s Bread and decorated with a cross. It is served with nuts and honey and often accompanied by yiaprakia or lahanodolmades. Have you heard of yiaprakia and lahanodolmades This dish is loved by all of Greece and is usually served with a lemon-flavoured sauce.

Let’s move on to the main course. Traditional Greek Christmas meals featured lamb and pork as the main course. Today, a typical Christmas dish would be a veal stew with dried fruit and nuts. In recent years, it is not uncommon to see turkey as the star of a Greek dinner table.

Cookies are a popular dessert choice, just like in Spain. Melomakarona is one example. They are oval-shaped and decorated with sprinkled nuts.

What does the UK look like when it comes to traditional Christmas dishes?

The UK’s Christmas dinners tend to be the same as those seen in movies. Christmas Day is the day it is held. It features a large turkey, and there’s no shortage of excess consumption.

So far, so pop culture, right? But not so fast!

The British are known for adding traditional British elements to Christmas meals. These dishes are not common in other countries. Have you ever heard of “pigs in blankets”? How about Yorkshire puddings? How much do you know about mince pie?

Let’s talk about these British classic dishes for anyone who isn’t familiar with them. “Pigs in blankets” are a Christmas tradition that is served as a main course. This is done by wrapping bacon around cocktail sausages and creating a blanket for your pig. Yorkshire puddings don’t have to be reserved for Christmas Day. Many people enjoy them on a weekly basis along with their Sunday roast.

Traditional mince pies | Source: Stock image

It’s unlikely that you will make it through a British family’s Christmas dinner without one or more mince pies! A mince pie, despite its name sounding savoury, is a small tart filled with sweet mince made from fruit and spices. Mince pies are a staple during the festive season in the UK. They can be served with cream or custard.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started with Christmas this year.

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