Christmas is celebrated all over the world in unique and different ways. With different traditions comes, of course, different customary foods. Each culture displays and cherishes their own set of unique holiday traditions through their meals and most importantly their holiday sweets. Because let’s face it, Starbucks red cups and gingerbread cookies are not the main signifiers of the holiday season for the entire world.
Australia – White Christmas
A popular Australian holiday treat is festively named White Christmas. It combines raisins, glacé (candied) cherries, shredded coconut, powdered sugar, powdered milk and Rice Krispies; all being held together with coconut oil.
The recipe requires no baking too, the bars are formed and then just set to cool. Note, however, that Australians have different names for most of the mentioned ingredients, so before you attempt to whip up this easy treat, make sure you know what you’re buying.
Chile – Cola de Mono
This one is more of a dessert beverage similar to eggnog. The Chilean Cola de Mono or Colamono is an alcoholic drink made from milk, sugar, coffee, cloves and aguardiente (a liquor made from distilling the grape remnants leftover from wine).
This drink is served chilled and is probably ten times better than anything you can get at Starbucks. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making this homemade version with brandy.
Philippines – Bibingka
Bibingka is a traditional Filipino Christmas dessert. It’s typically made with rice flour, coconut milk or water, and eggs. What makes this cake special is the way it’s traditionally prepared. A special terra-cotta pot is lined with a banana leaf that is used to hold the mixture. A second leaf is used to cover the container as it is put in charcoal to cook.
This results in a cake with a very spongy texture and an almost charred top and bottom. These cakes are often topped and decorated with confectionary sugar or coconut during the holidays.
Mexico – Bunuelos
In Mexico, Christmas is a lot more than just December 25th. They begin their festivities with a feast in honor of the patron saint of Mexico on December 6th and on December 16th, they celebrate by having a large series of a procession.
The parties are called Las Posadas which include star-shaped Piñatas filled with candy. All of this wouldn’t be complete without a great holiday food to accompany all the fun. A typical Christmas dessert would have a warm rum punch called Ponche as well as Bunuelos, which are thin fried dough cakes either glazed or covered in powdered sugar.
The Netherlands – Banketstaaf
Banketstaaf is a Dutch pastry log typically eaten around the holidays. It’s traditionally filled with almond paste and often festively decorated with frosting and cherries. Some even suggest the addition of perfectly sliced almonds. The pastry itself is meant to have very flakey exterior with a dense and flavorful interior. It is perfectly paired with a cup of coffee or tea.
Spain – Polvorónes
Spain does have more than delicious churros, especially around Christmas. The Spanish surely celebrate Christmas in a sweet way, with a wide variety of holiday time desserts such as candies like marzipan and Turrón.
However, they also bring in the Christmas season with Polvorónes, delicious almond shortbread cookies. Their name even comes from the Spanish world “Polvo” which means powder or dust because this baked good is known for it’s flakey consistency and melty texture.
France – Bûche de Noël
The Bûche de Noël also known as the yule log originated in France in the 1800s and was designed to represent a miniature yule log, which was a log specially chosen to be burnt in celebration during the holidays.
This Christmas dessert not only looks adorable but sounds even more delicious. It’s commonly made of a thin sponge cake rolled into a log with flavored buttercream in the middle. Then, the whole thing is covered in chocolate ganache and decorated in some variation of a natural log scene.
Switzerland – Brunsli
The Swiss celebrate Christmas with cut-out cookies just like us. However their cookies truly take it to the next level, for their Brunsli are much more like brownies than cookies. These chocolatey cookies are spiced with cinnamon giving them some kick.
Another unique characteristic of these cookies is that they can be made gluten free as well, that way everyone can enjoy them.
Germany – Stollen
The Germans celebrate Christmas with what may sound like the ever so common fruit cake, but their version isn’t something you would give away. The German Stollen is a simple bread filled with candied fruit and nuts, usually flavored with orange peel, cinnamon, and even cardamon. The part that I think sounds the most enticing about this dessert bread is that it has an outer crust, or layer of sugar encasing the loaf.
Sweden – Julgröt
The Swedes turn to a rice pudding to help celebrate the holidays. Julgröt is a Christmas porridge made out of rice and cream. What specifies it is that it is flavored usually with cinnamon and almonds. This savory dessert will warm up anyone around the cold holiday season.