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Here’s How Holiday Meals Vary Across The Planet

If you can’t indulge in food during the holiday season, when can you? The festivities are the perfect excuse to treat your taste buds, especially when there’s so much delicious food available at this time of the year. Of course, depending on where you live in the world will impact exactly what’s on offer.

Costa Rica

It’s not often you’ll see a family in Costa Rica tucking into a traditional U.S. holiday meal. You’re far more likely to see them chowing down on some tamales. This is a favored food in Costa Rica throughout the festive period, although what they’re made with differs from one house to another. Some use pork, others chicken; some use potatoes, others raisins. It all depends on what taste they’re looking for and what “secret” recipe the family has up their sleeves.


Many people enjoy a holiday roast in the festive season, but they don’t love how long it takes to make. At least this typically only requires a few hours, though, compared to Lithuania’s kūčios, which can take an entire week to prepare. It consists of 12 dishes enjoyed on December 24 that utilize ingredients like fish and vegetables. Smoked eel, sauerkraut, and herring in a tomato/onion/mushroom sauce are all apparently common for this feast.


Compared to some countries, what Germany has to offer as a holiday meal isn’t that different from the United States. However, while meats like turkey or turducken are common in the U.S., the bird of choice is typically goose. This is a tradition that’s been in place since the middle ages, although it wasn’t initially introduced as part of a holiday meal. Germans typically stuff the goose with various fruit, vegetables, and spices and accompany it with sauerkraut, red cabbage, and dumplings.


Plenty of people in the United States love fast food. Do they love it as much as the Japanese, though? After all, it’s apparently a tradition for millions of families in Japan to have KFC as a holiday meal. It’s apparently a popular choice on December 24, to the point that they have to reserve their feast several months early. This all stems back to the fast-food chain putting together a holiday bucket in the ‘70s that seemingly spoke to the Japanese.


Everyone likes different things, which is why the Finnish don’t bother cooking everyone the same meal. Instead, it’s common for those in Finland to serve their holiday food as a buffet, where people can choose exactly what they want on their plates. There’s usually a rich choice of food on offer, with casseroles, mushroom salad, pickled herring, ham, and Karelian stew all favorites. It’s a similar situation with dessert, where the likes of piparkakku – or gingerbread – and rice pudding are often available.

It’s hard to imagine eating anything else over the holiday season if you’ve grown up enjoying a particular meal. However, if you were born in another country or raised by different parents, perhaps one of these traditions would be your own?