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Travel the World through Christmas Dinner Traditions

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When we travel, we realize that as humans we share more similarities than differences. There’s also nothing like the holiday season with its messages of “Peace on Earth” and “Good Will Towards All” to get us thinking about how much we have in common. For example, despite rich and diverse cultures and languages, we all share a love for good food. (Even though that food can look and taste differently depending on where we are in this big, beautiful world.)

So, let’s draw inspiration from around the world this year and add a new dish (or two) to our Christmas feasts. Here are some tempting ways to travel the world though Christmas Dinner traditions.

France’s Christmas Dinner Menu

Cuisine varies from region to region in France as do holiday traditions. In the north, le Réveillon (lit. “the eve”) still dominates the cultural and culinary landscapes. Beginning after midnight mass, this lavish, multi-course meal can last well into the early morning hours. Filled with delectable dishes, dancing, and plenty of wine, le Réveillon is a true feast for the senses.

Dishes include smoked salmon with crème fraîche, escargot, oysters served on the half shell, coquilles St. Jacques (scallops in cream sauce), and roasted goose. The early morning revelry culminates in the presentation of the bûche de Noël or Yule log. The Yule log is a chocolate, cream-filled cake that’s shaped and decorated to resemble an actual log of wood. This decadent dessert symbolizes the logs families once gathered around for warmth mid-winter.

travel the world
© Jenni Field | Dreamstime.com

Christmas Food in Zimbabwe

When the first Europeans came to Zimbabwe, they introduced a variety of Christmas traditions. Since then, Christmas has become a part of local culture. Despite the fact that the Yuletide falls during the summer in Zimbabwe, locals sing Christmas carols and children hopefully wait for a visit from Santa Claus.

Because it’s a warm-weather holiday, Zimbabweans include lots of fruit in their Christmas dinner spread as well as the grain and vegetable staple known as sadza. Meats roasted over an open fire pit include everything from ox to goat to wart hog. Chicken with rice is a traditional, though expensive, dish served on Christmas Day, too.

A Philippines Christmas Feast

If you’ve read our blog posts about celebrating Halloween or Christmas around the world, then you know that Christmas begins early in the Philippines. And it’s a huge affair. So, it’s no wonder that the Christmas Eve or Nochebuena (lit. “good night”) feast is one of the most highly anticipated meals of the year.

Traditional Christmas Eve menu items include queso de bola (Edam cheese), puto bumbong (a purple-hued rice steamed in bamboo shoots with butter, sugar, and coconut), ensaymada (a sweet and cheesy bread), and cured ham. The dinner table is also decorated with an assortment of brightly colored fruits. Like the French, Filipinos typically enjoy this feast after midnight mass with festivities stretching well into the early hours of Christmas Day.

travel the world
© Arnold Gatilao | Wikimedia Commons

Christmas Feasting in Peru

As in the Philippines, Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena in Peru, and it marks the night of the main Christmas dinner. Christmas trees aren’t a typical part of the Christmas tradition in South America. Instead, families gather around the nativity scene to exchange presents and see what Santa’s left. (The exception is the Andean region where the gift exchange doesn’t happen until January 6th during the Feast of the Epiphany).

But what do Peruvians eat during Nochebuena? Following the Misa de Gallo (Rooster Mass) at 10 pm, the feasting begins. Dishes include tamales, rice seasoned with garlic, applesauce, and roast turkey. For dessert, Peruvians indulge in panettone, a sweet bread filled with candied orange zest and golden raisins, while savoring cups of rich Peruvian hot chocolate. Adults indulge in champagne, too.

Travel the World through Food this Christmas

Ready for more mouthwatering international dishes that’ll let you and your family travel the world from home? Download our free Around the World in 12 Recipes cookbook. Featuring kid-friendly recipes, your whole family will delight in preparing and enjoying these international flavors together.

At Our Whole Village, raising globally-minded children is our passion. We create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft to introduce kids to the world and create better global citizens.

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