The typical American holiday meal is enjoyed on Christmas Day and consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. But how do countries across the Atlantic ring in the holidays? Check out some of Europe’s most treasured holiday dishes enjoyed across the globe!
In Austria (and many other European countries), the main meal is served on Christmas Eve. Although meals vary according to local tradition, an Austrian Christmas dinner typically consists of fried carp, roast goose, or roast turkey. Dessert includes apricot cake and Austrian Christmas cookies. Dinner on Christmas Day usually consists of goose or ham served with mulled wine andsachertorte– a chocolate torte for dessert. According to tradition, ‘Christkind’ (described as a golden-haired baby with wings; symbolizes the new born Christ) brings presents to children on Christmas Eve and leaves them under the tree.
Duck, goose, rabbit, or a roast is traditionally served as the entree for Christmas dinner in Germany. Other dishes include: potato dumplings, red cabbage, and apple and sausage stuffing. For dessert, Christmas Stollen – a popular fruit bread dating back to the 15th century is enjoyed as popular sweet treat.
The traditional Czech Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve. The meal consists of fish soup and fried carp with potato salad. Vánočka – a cake made from sweet white dough with raisins and Christmas cookies are often on the menu for dessert. After dinner, presents brought by Baby Jesus (Ježíšek) that have been placed around the Christmas tree are opened.
A Slovak Christmas dinner typically consists of 12 dishes (the number of dishes symbolizing Jesus’s disciples). The traditional dinner begins with Oplatky bread wafers and a blessing. The main supper varies between regions. Normally, fried carp and cabbage soup are served alongside potato salad. Other dishes might include a ham or roast goose. Cookies are also a popular Christmas treat for dessert.
The main holiday meal in Hungary typically consists of fish and cabbage, and beigli, a traditional Christmas treat made of poppy seeds. Gingerbread is also a very common Christmas treat, often decorated with holiday figures. On Christmas Eve in Hungary, families decorate the Christmas tree together and often attend midnight mass after their Christmas meal.
The main meal in Slovenia is consumed on Christmas Eve and consists mainly of roast meat, potatoes, and vegetables. No Christmas in Slovenia is complete without potica, a traditional rolled and filled cake. The cake comes in many different varieties, but the most popular cake is filled with walnuts or poppy seeds.
In Poland, the main meal is Christmas Eve supper (Kolacja wigilijna). Like many other Catholic countries, Christmas Eve is a fasting day and many do not eat until sunset. According to tradition, the meal is served once the first star is seen in the night sky. The supper typically consists of 12 dishes – symbolizing good luck for the next 12 months (or the number of Jesus’s disciples). Side dishes include: carp (stuffed or fried), herring, fruit compote, vegetable salad, barszcz (beetroot soup), potatoes, sauerkraut, and makowiec (poppy seed pastry).
Each Christmas Eve, Croatians eat bakalar (dried codfish) as a substitute for meat. A meat dish (roasted pig, turkey, or lamb) is typically served on Christmas Day. Common side dishes include stuffed cabbage, salads, poppyseed rolls, and fig cake. In rural parts of the country, it’s customary to bring straw into the house on Christmas Eve as a symbol for flourishing future crops.
Which holiday cuisine makes your mouth water?