Monthly Wrap: Festive feasts from around the world

Currencies Direct December 11th 2019 - 3 minute read

Sitting down for Christmas dinner is a tradition which has firmly established itself around the world.

But how do festive feasts differ from country to country?


Many European nations enjoy similar fare to the UK, and Germany fits that mould.

A German Christmas dinner typically consists of a roast goose, but duck and rabbit are also common. The rest of the meal is made up of the usual suspects; potatoes, red cabbage and other assorted veggies.

The real standout of Germany’s Christmas dinner though is dessert. Stollen is a tasty traditional German fruit bread filled with marzipan, nuts, spices and dried fruits.


Roast poultry features on most Christmas tables in Brazil, but unlike Ecuador and Peru (where turkey is favoured), Brazil prefers roast Chester.

What’s ‘Chester’? A breed of huge, genetically-selected chicken.

Biologists at Brazilian food processor Perdigao began to breed Chester with the goal of creating a cheaper alternative to turkey. Evidently the project was success, and has left Perdigao dominating holiday-season poultry sales!

It’s not all about Chester though. Brazilian Christmas dinners also feature pastries filled with melted parmesan called ‘rice pasteis’, as well as oranges, and the heart of palm vegetable.

Puerto Rico

The fundamental core of Puerto Rico’s Christmas dinner also happens to be the island’s national dish – a roast suckling pig called lechon.

As with many Christmas roasts, the process can be an arduous one. The pig is usually turned on a spit throughout the day, and you’ll often have at least two people watching and turning it from just after midnight on Christmas morning to make sure it’s ready for dinner.

A Spanish black pudding called morcilla, as well as meat pastries called pasteles, are also important parts of the meal. ‘Arroz con gandules’, rice with pigeon peas, also makes an appearance.


The main elements of Portugal’s Christmas meal are typically things like roast turkey, codfish and potatoes, but the standout part of a Portuguese Christmas dinner is the extravagant desserts.

The desserts vary by region, but two major Christmas cake variations include Bolo Rei and Bolo Rainha – the first containing nuts and fruits and the latter without the candied fruit.

To compliment the centrepiece cake, there are other little pastries and treats like filhós, fried dough with sugar and cinnamon, as well as Portuguese biscuits and sweets.


While you can sit down to a Western-style roast in many Malaysian tourist hot spots, a local tradition is ‘devil’s curry’.

Spreading from the Malacca state of the country, the meal is thought to come from Portuguese Eurasian Kristang tradition.

‘Devil’s curry’ is a spicy chicken and vinegar curry that families often prepare for special occasions.

The vinegar gives the curry a kick, but the recipe generally varies from family to family. Some prefer to focus on spice, while others go for a tangy taste.


Putting aside the hefty meal of roast pork, stuffed cabbage, fishes and beans; Serbia’s biggest Christmas tradition is the baking and splitting of ‘cesnica’.

A ‘?esnica’, or ‘Boži?na poga?a’, is a ceremonial loaf of bread usually baked on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. The loaf is round and often decorated with patterns, but the main tradition is the splitting of the bread between the household.

During the kneading process, a coin or other object is placed in the dough. Whichever family member ends up with the piece of bread containing the object gets good luck for the whole year!


The rumours are true: while we’re whacking up the heating and trying to warm ourselves with roast dinners and wine, much of Australia is soaking up the sun.

The height of summer in Australia means that a good old outdoor barbecue really is Australia’s Christmas dinner of choice. These are of course a little fancier than your average barbecue, but you can still expect plenty of grilled meat and salads.

BBQ prawns are also a hugely popular fixture of an Aussie Christmas.


Believe it or not, Japan’s Christmas dinner of choice is fried chicken from none other than Colonel Sanders – otherwise known as KFC.

Christmas in Japan is more a consumer event than a religious or family holiday, with the season’s traditional festivities usually focused more around New Year.

Fried chicken has been popular in Japan for decades, but a particularly successful KFC marketing campaign in the 70s managed to turn KFC into a Christmas staple. It’s such a tradition now that families often have to book a meal weeks in advance.

The meal is often enjoyed with hot sake, and followed by a sweet, cakey dessert.
Wherever you’re spending Christmas this year, and whatever kind of meal you’re sitting down to, we hope you have a fantastic day!

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Currencies Direct

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