You may be surprised to discover many French tables will be full of similar foods to the ones we're used to in the UK, including turkey, mince pies and Christmas pud. But roast goose is also often served, as are oysters in some parts of the country. One of the most popular cakes eaten over Christmas is the bûche de Noël, a yule log filled with chestnut cream and wrapped in marzipan.
Pickled herring, ham and rice pudding are traditional festive foods in Sweden. But baking biscuits is also an important part of the holiday. For instance pepparkakor are gingerbread cookies full of Christmas spices, often baked in different shapes including houses, stars and moons. And of course there are the usual Swedish meatballs too.
Trust the Italians to have pasta on Christmas day (tortellini and ravioli are often among the many courses served for lunch), but they're also fond of roast lamb with vegetables such as mashed potato and lentils. In some regions of northern Italy they serve pigs' trotters stuffed with spiced mince meat (lo zampone). For pudding there's panettone and pandoro (a similar cake to panettone but without the candied fruit or raisins), and nougat (il torrone).
Imagine having KFC for your Christmas treat? Well that's what you might have if you lived in Japan, where fried and roast chicken are popular over Christmas, along with fried potato. And instead of the fruity type of Christmas cake we have here in the UK, in Japan they have sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries.
It's summer down under at Christmas time, so no wonder they celebrate by throwing another shrimp on the barbie. Seafood and salad are popular Christmas Day fare, but many have roast turkey and chicken with stuffing too. And their version of Christmas cake is often a pavlova (meringue with ice cream inside). But then they don't have to eat to keep out the cold, do they?
They may not have the same weather as Australia at Christmas time, but the Spanish are also fond of sea food on Christmas Day - white sea bass, for instance, is a popular festive dish, roasted in breadcrumbs and olive oil. And for pudding there's plenty of almond cake, marzipan and nougat (turron).
You need an awful lot of stamina to get through Christmas dinner in the Ukraine, where they traditionally serve 12 courses. These include boiled wheat mixed with poppy seeds and honey (kutia), beetroot soup with boiled dumplings filled with chopped mushrooms and onions (borshcht with vushka), various fish dishes including marinated herring, then more boiled dumplings filled with cabbage, potatoes and buckwheat (varenyky) and stuffed cabbage (holubtsi), finished off with stewed fruit (uzvar).
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