Carp, BBQ & KFC- festive dinner traditions from around the globe

Published 22nd Sep 2017
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

On Christmas Day, Brits sit down to enjoy a traditional dinner that includes a roast turkey with all the trimmings. Faces are then stuffed with Christmas puddings, mince pies and mulled wine before the family falls asleep in front of whatever repeats they’re showing on TV.
That’s how we roll on these shores, but Christmas can be very different in other countries around the world.

The French like their food and they enjoy a long dinner known as le Réveillon. Traditionally, it is eaten on Christmas Eve. Le Réveillon is a sumptuous dinner with the best food and wine and dishes include roast turkey with chestnuts, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and various cheeses.

In Poland, Christmas Eve is a day first of fasting, then of feasting. The Wigilia feast begins at the appearance of the first star, and on the table are 12 dishes - symbolising Jesus’ 12 disciples - and they are meant to give you good luck for the next 12 months. The meal is traditionally meat free and often includes cuffed carp; fried carp; herring in wine sauce; herring in a cream sauce; fruit compote; vegetable salad; beetroot, mushroom or fish soup, boiled potatoes, sauerkraut and makowiec.

Christmas dinner in Oz is very similar to the British version, but as it falls in the summer, meats such as turkey, chicken and ham are often served cold with cranberry sauce. They also love a good barbie down under, and seafood such as prawns, lobster, oysters and crayfish have become more popular for a Christmas day lunch. Dessert on the day includes fresh fruit, pavlova and trifle.


For many people in Japan, the traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Historically, Japan does not celebrate Christmas and it’s not even a national holiday. Millions of Japanese, however, spend Christmas Day at one of the restaurant chain’s many outlets, where they feast on buckets of fried chicken. It all started in the 1970s, when KFC noticed that many foreign countries could not get hold of turkey at Christmas and so launched a new menu that included fried chicken and Champagne. It worked so well that queuing to get into KFC on Christmas Day has become a tradition in itself in Japan.

Many of the Christmas traditions in the US have been adopted from the UK. The traditional Christmas dinner across the pond features turkey with stuffing,
mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and vegetables such as carrots, turnip, parsnips, etc. For dessert, pumpkin or apple pie, raisin pudding, Christmas pudding, or fruitcake are the staple.

Again, Christmas dinner in Canada is very similar to the British version. Canadian families have roast turkey with all the trimmings. Dessert usually consists of pumpkin or apple pie, raisin pudding, Christmas pudding or fruitcake.

The most common Christmas dishes in Germany are roast goose or roast carp. In recent years, however, suckling pig and duck have become popular. The main course is usually served with roast potatoes, red cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts.

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. The Natale lunch often begins with a classic antipasto spread featuring dry cured meats, salami, fine Italian cheeses, briny olives, artichokes and more.

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Brazilians enjoy a huge feast on December 24. It includes platters of ham, roast turkey and in some parts roast pork and fish.
Accompanying the meat is kale, Brazil nuts, rice, salad, potatoes salad and fresh fruit.

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