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From Greenland to Ethiopia to Puerto Rico: Christmas Around the World

Turkey is overrated. From whale blubber to KFC, here’s what Christmas looks like in the rest of the world.

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Europe

First, we travel to a continent known for its abundance of Christmas cheer, with markets, traditions, and delicious meals galore.

Germany

Frohe Weihnachten! (German)
Date: December 25th
Try: Stollen, a fruit bread containing dried fruit and dusted with powdered sugar.
Fun Fact: Instead of Santa Claus, German children write letters hoping to receive presents from der Weihnachtsmann or das Christkind, who traditionally deliver presents on December 24th. In addition, they have Saint Nicholas, who puts little gifts in children’s shoes on December 6th.

UK

SOY-FREEEGG-FREE

Christmas Mince Pies 圣诞甜果派

Huang Kitchen

Date: December 25th
Try: Mince pies, small pies filled with minced meat, a preserve made of dried fruits and spices soaked in rum and brandy.
Fun Fact: Christmas dinner is decorated with Christmas crackers filled with little toys.

Italy

WINTERPESCATARIAN

Panettone

Bake with Paws

Buon Natale! (Italian)
Date: December 25th
Try: Panettone, a sweet bread loaf containing raisins and candied fruit.
Fun Fact: Throughout the festive season, a nativity scene (presepe) is put up as an important part of the Christmas decoration.

Russia

PESCATARIANSOY-FREE

Russian Tea Cakes

Homemade and Wholesome

С Рождеством! (S rozhdestvóm; Russian)
Date: January 7th
Try: пряники (pryaniki), Russian spice cookies.
Fun Fact: Russia’s Santa Claus is called Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz, meaning ‘Grandfather Frost’), usually depicted in silver-blue robes and often accompanied by his granddaughter, Снегурочка (Snegúrochka, the Snow Maiden).

Greenland

Juullimi Pilluarit! (Greenlandic)
Glædelig Jul! (Danish)
Date: December 25th
Try: Mattak, or muktuk, raw strips of whale blubber wrapped in whale skin.
Fact: Traditionally men serve the women for the Christmas meal.

(Image source: http://bit.ly/2gwShXf)

Africa

A big continent requires a big appetite, so put on your loosest pants and get ready to eat your way through Africa with traditional Christmas foods like lamb stew and spicy curry!

Ethiopia

መልካም ገና! (melkam genna; Amharic)
Date: January 7th
Try: Doro wat, a spicy stew or curry, served on injera, a spongy flatbread.
Fun Fact: A popular game called ‘yegena chewata,’ similar to hockey, is played by young boys during Christmas. According to one myth, when Jesus Christ was born, the news spread everywhere and the shepherds were so excited that they began leaping around and throwing things, hence creating the game.

(Image source: http://bit.ly/2h1mJw0)

Egypt

عيد ميلاد سعيد (‘eed milaad sa3eed; Arabic)
Date: January 7th
Try: Fata, a lamb stew with rice, bread, and garlic.
Fun Fact: Christians make up 15% of Egypt's population.

(Image source: http://bit.ly/2h0hfQ2)

Asia

We may think of palm trees and white sand beaches when it comes to this continent, but Asia knows cozy winter comfort food too.

Philippines

Maligayang Pasko! (Tagalog)
Date: December 25th
Try: Puto bumbong, a sweet purple dessert made from sticky rice, topped with butter and shredded coconut mixed with sugar.
Fun Fact: People stay up all night on Christmas Eve for a huge midnight feast called Noche Buena.

(Image source: http://bit.ly/2gXcAhg)

Japan

FISH-FREELOW-CARB

KFC Keto Fried Chicken

Nicko's Kitchen

メリークリスマス! (merīkurisumasu; Japanese)
Date: December 25th
Try: KFC.
Fun Fact: In 1974, after hearing about Western expats turning to fried chicken since they couldn’t find turkeys, KFC launched a Christmas Chicken campaign, the slogan of which was “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or “Kentucky for Christmas!” This campaign is still going strong 40 years later. Nowadays, orders for fried chicken, champagne, and cake must be placed weeks in advance.

North America

Look no further than our Northern neighbor for some of the tastiest Christmas treats.

Canada

EGG-FREECOMFORT FOOD

Vegan Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

The Edgy Veg

Date: December 25th
Try: Nanaimo bars, a three-layered treat consisting of a crumb-based layer at the bottom, a custard layer in the middle, and a milk chocolate layer on top.
Fun Fact: Carol singers are called ‘mummers’ in Newfoundland.

South America

South America knows how to do food and drink right, so it's no surprise that some of the tastiest holiday dishes come from this part of the world!

Venezuela

Feliz Navidad! (Spanish)
Date: December 24th
Try: Hallaca, a type of corn tamale stuffed with meat stew, raisins, capers, and olives and wrapped in plantain leaves, then boiled.
Fun Fact: A lot of people believe that wearing yellow on New Year’s Eve will bring good luck!

(Image source: http://bit.ly/2gKnU2J)

Puerto Rico

Feliz Navidad! (Spanish)
Date: December 25th
Try: Coquito, a creamy, coconut and cinnamon rum drink.
Fun Fact: A popular Puerto Rican tradition is the parranda, when a group of friends travel from one house to another singing and partying until dawn!
(Image source: http://bit.ly/2h1jDby)

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and happy eating, wherever you are in the world!

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