November 17, 2022


Tis’ the season! For Food! With the festive season starting, everyone is stockpiling gifts, trinkets, decorations, and most importantly: food!

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without food, and a life without good food is no life at all. With Christmas being such a worldwide holiday phenomenon, many cultures and countries have their own traditional dishes and delicacies consumed over the festive season. Let’s look at the top five unique holiday dishes from around the world!

Christmas Pudding – England

English Christmas pudding, also known as plum pudding, has its origins in the 14th century, in medieval England, with early recipes making use of dried fruit, suet, breadcrumbs, flour, eggs, and spices.  In its early history, it was originally a porridge-like meal called “frumenty”. It was traditionally served as a fasting meal and would be made 5 weeks before Christmas in preparation for Advent. 

The custom of eating Christmas pudding was passed over to many countries by British Colonists. It is a common dish in the festive period in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. 

The pudding would be mixed with alcohol, and then steamed or broiled. It is sometimes considered good luck for each member of the family to stir the pot and make a wish as they do so. Another fun tradition involving this dish is the practice of having various items stirred into it. Such as silver coins, wishbones, silver thimbles, and rings, all of which, if found, bring good luck to those fortunate enough to find them.

KFC – Japan

When you think of Christmas meals, KFC might be the last food that comes to mind. Unless you live in Japan. In the late 1960s, Japan started enjoying Christmas as a seasonal event. In the 1970s, KFC came to Japan, with its first store opening up in 1974. It was then that KFC Japan launched its very first Christmas Campaign in the country, selling a bucket of KFC’s finest, with a bottle of wine, suggesting it be used in a Christmas party. 

Since the original campaign started in 1974, the yearly event has continued to grow across the country with Christmas orders needing to be placed up to two months in advance! 

Puto BumBong  – Philippines 

Puto BumBong is a traditional Filipino street food, consisting of a sweet glutinous mix of black and white rice, which appears purple. The rice is soaked overnight and then inserted into a tube of bamboo, then steamed and served with butter, sugar, and shredded coconut. 

This traditional snack, in the majority-Catholic Philippines, is commonly served as a snack or breakfast during the Christmas season and is usually associated with the nine-day traditional Simbang Gabi novena, where stalls serving snacks, including puto bumbong are set up outside churches. 

Smalahove – Norway 

This dish is probably the most unique on the list, consisting of a sheep head served with potatoes and rutabaga, a root vegetable. Originating in Western Norway, it is traditionally served on the Sunday before Christmas. 

Traditionally, the skin and fleece of the head are torched, the brain removed, and the head salted, smoked, or dried. The head is then boiled for about three hours before being served. The dish was originally eaten by the poor in rural areas, with the ears and eyes being eaten first and the meat consumed from the front to the back of the skull. 

Being somewhat of an ‘extreme’ dish, most people consider it to be unappealing and is enjoyed mostly by enthusiasts and tourists. 

The festive season is a magical period for cuisine all over the world. So next time you find yourself abroad during the Christmas period, be sure to check out the unique, local festive delicacies. They might just surprise you!