Holiday Food Traditions from Around the World
Throughout the world, the holidays are a time for giving and togetherness. In the Nochebuena episode of PBS Kids’ “Alma’s Way,” Alma remarks how she loves that every year they celebrate with the same traditions. Many of us treasure our holiday food traditions, especially if there’s a family recipe that has been passed down through the generations. Like the way Alma’s neighbors share holiday treats with each other, giving special food to others at the holidays is a personal way to join and grow in the community. Traditions are tied to memories and connection, however, it’s never too late to start some new family holiday traditions!
Here are some delicious food traditions enjoyed by families around the world during the holidays!
During Nochebuena, the whole family wants one of Alma’s mommy’s polvorones. These buttery, almond-flavored shortbread cookies are classic Puerto Rican Christmas cookies. Similar treats show up around the world by different names, including Russian tea cakes, pecan snowballs, and Mexican wedding cookies.
At the beginning of the “Alma’s Way” Nochebuena episode, neighbors are shopping at the store for holiday ingredients, and Becka mentions buying potatoes to make latkes with her mom. These Jewish, fried potato pancakes are traditionally prepared to celebrate Hanukkah. They’re often topped with applesauce or sour cream. Yum!
Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, is the first place in the world to welcome Christmas Day. Children on this southern Pacific island leave Santa chewy coconut macaroons.
In Australia, where it’s summer during the holidays, nothing tastes more like Christmas than peel-and-eat shrimp. They’re cool, delicious, and a cornerstone of any Australian Christmas spread.
In Japan, Hoteiosha brings gifts and fortunes to well-behaved children. After leaving their gifts on their pillow, he enjoys a slice of Christmas cake. This classic cake is made with layers of soft sponge cake, fluffy whipped cream, and fresh strawberries.
Kulkuls. After hanging their stockings by a window (if they don’t have a fireplace), Indian children leave spicy chai and kulkuls for Christmas Baba (Father Christmas). Kulkuls are traditional, crispy, fried pastries that are shaped into small curls.
This almond rice pudding is the most popular Christmas dessert in Denmark. It’s made extra special by adding chopped almonds, folding in vanilla whipped cream, and serving it topped with a warm cherry sauce. Tradition says whoever finds the whole almond in their serving wins a gift.
In South Africa, children leave Hertzog cookies for Kersvader (Father Christmas). They are filled with sweet apricot jam and topped with coconut meringue.
These tender, fruit-filled cookies are traditional in Poland, and popular in the Czech Republic, Russia, and Austria. The buttery dough is made with cream cheese, and either cut into rounds and topped with jam or pinched around a jam filling. When they are cool, they are dusted with powdered sugar.
Swedish families celebrate St. Lucia’s Day by having one of their daughters serve coffee and these saffron buns to the rest of the family. Traditionally, these sweet rolls are studded with dried fruit, such as raisins or currants.
Originated in Germany, and now beloved around the world, gingerbread is a classic Christmas treat. Although gingerbread can take on many forms, Lubkuchen is the traditional spiced, soft, German cookie.
Representing children and their future, corn is one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa. African American families who celebrate may choose to incorporate the ingredient into their holiday menu in many delicious forms, such as cornbread, corn pudding, or fried corn.
Bûche de Noël
Dating back to the 19th century, buche de noel is a traditional Christmas dessert, especially popular in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. This roll-style chocolate cake is filled with whipped cream; frosted to look like a log; and adorned with decorative mushrooms, edible berries, and a dusting of sugary “snow.” In the “Let’s Go Luna!” Christmas special, Leo is super proud of the buche de noel he made. We agree, it’s quite impressive!
Feast of the Seven Fishes
On Christmas Eve, it’s traditional for Italian American families to gather around a seven-course seafood dinner. Popular dishes include baked cod, fried calamari, octopus salad, shrimp cocktail, and stuffed lobsters.
Sometimes called “mincemeat” pie, this English Christmas pie has evolved from a savory meat pie into a sweet dessert today. They are often baked in miniature form and stuffed with homemade or store-bought filling of apples, nuts, spices, dried fruit, and suet.
Many Latino families gather to make and eat tamales during the holidays. They are assembled by spreading a layer of masa dough on a softened corn husk; which is topped with a meat, bean, or chile pepper filling; before being folded and steamed.
What are your family’s favorite food traditions? And what new food traditions will your family try this year? #
GFM encourages you try international recipes to broaden your family’s cultural culinary knowledge.
Courtesy of PBS.org.