Christmas is nigh! For many of us, that means a large turkey meal coming our way on Friday. Turkey has been on the menu since the 1500s in the UK (before that boars’ head and peacock were both possibilities for your festive feast) and the Brits took that tradition with them to the US. But as ubiquitous as turkey seems in popular culture, around the world Christmas dinners look very different. Would any of these convince you to stray from the ‘traditional’ roast?
Japan – KFC
Celebrated more as a romantic or party holiday instead of a religious one, Christmas in Japan is a super trendy event, which usually centres around none other than finger-lickin’ good KFC. The tradition dates back to a marketing campaign launched in 1974 to market KFC as the Japanese Christmas Day dish, needless to say, it stuck. KFC in Japan recommends that guests pre-order their Christmas chicken as lines now snake around the corner, with 3.6 million Japanese families committing their Christmas meal to the colonel’s secret recipe, with meals also including a Christmas cake with a little Santa figurine on top.
Prague – Breaded Carp
If breaded, fried carp and potato salad sound like the ideal Christmas meal for you, you may have been Czech in another life. As fish has a religious meaning, it is eaten instead of meat on the days of fasting. Most Czechoslovakians fast on Christmas Eve, and therefore, carp features heavily on the menu. The whole thing becomes an event, with fishmongers keeping huge brimming plastic tubs full of fish and families coming by to choose their own. Some buy one fish for dinner and an additional few to set a few free in nearby rivers – a heartwarming Christmas tale we think.
Germany – Weihnachtsgans (Goose)
A German Christmas feast is genuinely unlike any other and is centred around the Weihnachtsgans, also known as the Christmas goose. Turkey is rarely seen at a German Christmas celebration, with goose being the main event. Taking four to five hours to prepare, the goose is stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions and prunes and spiced with mugwort and marjoram. Often served alongside dumplings, red cabbage, gravy and sauerkraut, this tradition dates back to the middle ages.
Venezuela – Hallacas
In Venezuela, you’ll usually find hallacas on the Christmas dinner table. Hallacas are very similar to a tamale, made of cornmeal and stuffed with roast beef, pork, chicken, raisins, capers and olives, all wrapped up in a banana leaf. This dish is only made during the festive season and preparing it is an all-day affair, where family and friends gather in the morning to chop and prepare the ingredients, including collecting the banana leaves from nearby fields.
Barbados – Sweet Potato Pie
Dating back to the early colonial days of the 18th century, the Barbadian sweet potato pie is a festive dish that is growing in popularity. The pie is a little different to our usual sweet pies, including cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet potatoes, pineapples and pineapple juice and cheese. Pineapple rings and cherries are added on top as the crown jewels. Sweet potato pie is seen on Christmas tables across the island and is often covered in gravy, a nice addition to rice, peas, stuffing and baked meats.
So if you are convinced that there are alternatives to a turkey meal on Christmas Day, all our restaurants are open for long celebratory lunches. Happy holidays from all of us!