12 Days of Teaching: 8 Christmas Food Traditions From Around the World


The chaos of the season caught up with us yesterday and we missed our Wednesday post for our 12 Days of Teaching series— but we hope today’s theme will make up for it, or at least make your mouth water.

In this eighth instalment, we look at 8 Christmas Food Traditions From Around the World. With so many countries to choose from, we opted to look in-house. Here are eight traditions enjoyed by members of the very diverse Teachers Media International team.


This country’s best known tradition is Christmas Eve, where a feast of 12 meatless dishes is prepared and served. The 12 traditional dishes start with Kutya, a wheatberry dish which includes poppyseed and honey, and is eaten hot or cold.  This is followed by soup (often borsht), pickled herrings, pyrohy (dumplings), holubtsi (cabbage rolls), nalysnyki (cheese crepes) pan fried fish, pyrizhky (cabbage buns), mushrooms and gravy, pampushki (potato dumplings), kolach ( sweet bread) and a variety of desserts – prune filled donuts, poppyseed roll, and Ukrainian scuffles.  There are other dishes that can be included in this traditional Christmas Eve meal as well. Looking to incorporate a little Ukraine in your holiday? Try this recipe for holubtsi.


Scotland, England and Ireland

The traditional Christmas pudding popular in Scotland, England and Ireland was made from meat and wine. But in recent years, the meat has been replaced with sweets and other ingredients. The recipe may have changed, but its importance hasn’t. The dish is usually made five weeks before Christmas and takes on a variety of forms.

The Irish Christmas pudding is a cross between a fruitcake and a rum cake. And, the clootie dumpling is a traditional Scottish pudding which gets its name from the cloth it’s boiled in.



The main Christmas meal in France is called Reveillon, and is eaten on Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning after attending midnight mass. The meal is finished off with an elaborate variety of desserts—often up to 13 different ones!—including the traditional Buche de Noel, or traditional sponge yule log. Get the recipe here.

Yule log


Christmas in Kenya is a time for social gatherings and food. As visitors make their rounds, food is everywhere. And if you’re lucky enough to be invited for Christmas dinner, chances are you’ll enjoy either fish or the traditional meal of nyama choma. This dish is made with beef or the goat, which is considered a delicacy. Vegetables, fruit and chapattis accompany the meal, often served with chutney. Not sure what a chapattis is? Here’s the recipe.



The German Christmas dinner is a giant production featuring duck, goose, rabbit or roast, and is accompanied by traditional delicacies such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, and potato dumplings. Dessert typically includes Christmas Stollen, considered one of the best Christmas pastries in the world. The most famous Stollen, which can be found at many supermarkets, is the Dresdner Stollen—a tasty fruit and nut dessert guaranteed to change your mind about the term “fruitcake.” For the advanced baker, you can find the recipe here.



Natale, or Christmas, is one of Italy’s most beloved holidays, where each region celebrates three meals with their own line-up of traditional dishes. Christmas Eve dinner is traditionally a light meal with no meat and a lot of seafood. Along with an abundance of fish, Italians celebrate this meal with meatless pasta and antipasti. But meat makes its return for Christmas day lunch, considered the most important of the three meals. The feast begins with antipasto, followed by a first course of pasta and the main meat event—chicken, sausages, or braised beef. The festivities continue for Santa Stefano’s lunch on December 26. Thinking of a meatless dinner? This Fried Baccala looks delicious.



Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks. Because of this, fried foods like potato pancakes (latkas or livivot) and doughnuts are traditional Hanukkah treats because they are cooked in oil and remind us of the miracle of the holiday. And brisket is a traditional main course. Check out this link for perfect latkes.



In Jamaica, Christmas Eve is also called “Grand Market” and is an exciting time, especially for children. During the day, people dress up in their best clothes to attend the festival activities and shop for food. The celebration can last until morning, but not everyone gets to stay out and party—the Christmas Day meal is usually prepared on Christmas Eve and includes fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch, and meat such as chicken, curry goat, or stewed oxtail. Christmas Day breakfast features ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, and fruit juice. This curry goat recipe will help you bring a little Jamaican Christmas to your home.


For a look at other holiday feast traditions from around the world, take a look at this YouTube video.

See you tomorrow where we will showcase nine great educational videos from the Teachers Media International library that you can show your students.

~ The Teachers Media Team

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