01 December 2018
To Brits those 3 words – ho ho ho – immediately evoke the spirit of Christmas, Santa’s impending visit, the season of goodwill and special times spent around the table with family and friends, to name but a few. The question these days though is – what will you be eating with your family and friends? As our country embraces our multicultural society and families from different countries unite and celebrate Christmas in Great Britain, let’s take a few minutes to explore some of the traditions and Christmas favourites from around the world that could be finding their way to your Christmas or a Christmas near you. Are you ready?
Did you know in Norway they hide their brooms? A little odd perhaps, but apparently superstitious Norwegians believe witches and evil spirits will grab the brooms and ride off on Christmas Eve! And when it comes to food? It’s all about pork ribs served with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes (they leave turkey until New Year). If the sound of Norwegian-style ribs is music to your ears, check out this recipe... our mouth is watering already!
Travelling west to the USA, its large Jewish population has led to Hanukkah playing an increasingly big role in the celebrations, with the lighting of a large Menorah – candles which celebrate the 8 miracle days (with the ninth candle being used to light the others). When it comes to Christmas food for Jewish people in America, it has a Chinese influence! Historically, this originated from the two big communities of migrants in New York being Jewish and Chinese, both non-Christian. When the Jews sorted out food on Christmas Day, the only takeaways and restaurants open were Chinese! Whilst this may have started out of necessity, it’s now become a tradition. If the idea of Chinese food for Christmas tickles you, take a peep at this collection of recipes, we are sure you'll find the one you are after!
Moving to the opposite side of the world, we were drawn by the Philippines' Lanterns. How pretty are they? Each year, on the Saturday before Christmas, a massive lantern festival is held in San Fernando. This tradition originated back in 1904! The message – hope. The preferred cuisine of a Philippine Christmas is Lechon. The word translates to ‘pig’ and is fundamentally a pig cooked over charcoals creating juicy and plump meat encapsulated by a crispy tasty skin. We have our eyes on this recipe and will definitely give it a go during the Christmas festivities. The Lechon is quite likely to be served with Puto Bumbong, purple sticky rice formed in bamboo molds or Bumbong.
Coming back closer to the UK, we think we can all relate to a Chocolate Yule Log. Judging by the name, perhaps this dessert came from Iceland and the Yule lads? The Yule lads are folkloristic figures full of menace and are often seen as tricksters. In the leadup to Christmas they visit the children who have left their shoes out to be filled, with nice gifts if they’ve been good – but beware, naughty children are likely to receive rotting potatoes! ...which, of course, don't feature in the Chritsmas menu, as when it comes to Icelandic Christmas food, it’s all about smoked lamb. Although we realise that sending you to an airlines' website for a recipe is odd, we promise you this article by Wow Airlines is quite comprehensive as they also incorporate recipes for the side dishes.
Having explored the four corners of the world, our journey comes to an end in South America with the beautiful Day of the Little Candles of Colombia which happens every year on December 7th and marks the start of the Christmas season. Entire towns are lit up with lanterns, families come together with live music and light up the skies and enjoy the spectacular site and great food. The Colombians have their main meal on Christmas Eve and they eat pork stuffed with rice and peas, called Lechona, whilst desert is Natilla, a thick custard flavoured with cinnamon. If this holiday season your heart and taste buds take you to Latin America, here's a recipe video that'll show you how to cook a great homemade Lechona.
We hope you like our mini Christmas tour, we would love to hear what traditions you embrace with your family and friends when you fuse together, please share your stories on our social media – we hope they are crackers!
Oh, we almost forgot – If you are looking for a more traditional British Christmas meal and roasting tips, check out our Roast to Perfection article.