There is no doubt about it that Christmastime is a time for food. We Americans have become accustomed to honey baked ham and mashed potatoes as staples in our Christmas menu, but what is the rest of the world munchin’ on this holiday season?

Greece – Baklava

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Although today this is a favorite Greek pastry enjoyed at any time of the year, Baklava traditionally was eaten on special religious holidays such as Christmas. It is a treat that includes layers of filo pastry filled with whatever your heart desires. Some put almonds and cinnamon soaked in honey in-between the sheets while those looking for something savory may fill the layers with mincemeat. The variations are limitless.

Germany – Christollen

Research for Xmas #stollen #bread #christollen #christmas #christmasbread @bellamie.boulangerie

A photo posted by Aston Adiwijaya (@aston_adiwijaya) on Nov 19, 2015 at 8:04pm PST

This is a traditional fruit bread eaten around Christmastime that is filled with a variety of dried fruit, nuts, and spices. To top it off, as soon as the bread comes out of the oven it is doused in melted butter and rolled in powdered sugar. Can you say heaven? 

France – Buche de Noel

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Photo courtesy of flourbakery.com

Also known as a Yule Log, this is a famous French dessert that originated out of the Celtics burning logs around Christmastime to cleanse the air of the past years events. The most basic, and common, recipe includes vanilla sponge cake and chocolate buttercream frosting but some daredevils go the extra mile and use ganache or espresso flavored icing. 

Australia – Pavlova

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When celebrating Christmas in Australia, you’re sure to find one of these on the dessert table. Pavlova is a meringue cake with a crisp crust and a soft inside that is usually covered in whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit. It is cool and refreshing, which makes it the perfect holiday summertime treat.

England – Mince Pies

 

The English do not mess around when it comes to holiday eats. A mince pie is a sweet pie that is filled with a fruit-based mincemeat recipe that dates back to the 13th century. If you’re in England around the Christmas season, you are sure to find one of these being sold on any street corner.

Puerto Rico – Coquito

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Photo by Kevin Del Orbe

Puerto Rico likes to put a twist on the traditional egg nog recipe by adding in coconut milk. Coquito is a rich and creamy drink that resembles egg nog, but has a tropical flare. A staple at any Christmas gathering, this drink is the life of the party.

Ethiopia – Doro Wat

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Also known as spicy chicken stew, this is one of the best known foods from Ethiopia. With its popularity, it is eaten year round, but around Christmas, it dominates the menu of many households. Rich flavor and tender pieces of chicken… What more could you want?

Sweden – Lussekatter

A sweet bun made with saffron-infused dough, Lussekatter are made in the spirit of the Advent of Christmas for St. Lucia Day. The oldest daughter in the family makes these S-shaped buns and gives them to her parents for breakfast. To add an extra bit of sweetness to this buttery bread, raisins are placed as the “eyes” of the rolls.

Mexico – Ensalada de Noche Buena

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Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.com

The recipe for this Christmas Eve salad varies from one household to the next. The only constants are the use of lettuce and beets, but one can add anything there heart desires to this tasty dish. Another characteristic of this dish includes the artful plating of the ingredients and then tossing it once it gets to the table. 

Italy – Panettone

 

Originating in Milan, this is a type of sweet bread that traditionally includes candied orange, citron, and lemon zest with raisins mixed in. You may recall eating this delicacy in the states because over the years it has become a popular Christmas treat around the world.

Spain – Turron

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Similar to nougat, turron is made with honey, sugar, egg whites, and some kind of nut. It is a Christmas delicacy in Spain and dates back to the 15th century. It can be hard, it can be soft. It can be sweet, it can be salty, but it is always delicious.

Hungary – Beigli

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A traditional walnut poppy seed roll that families dish up around the holidays, beigli is a sweet treat. To keep it simple, it is basically a crust rolled up with fillings of your liking. Some Hungarians have ventured beyond the traditional walnuts and poppy seeds and have instead filled their rolls with Nutella. Now I like the sound of that.

Scotland – Christmas Pudding

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Also known as plum pudding (even though the recipe calls for no plums), this dessert is a mixture of dried fruit held together by egg and suet. It involves flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and a number of spices and is aged for months before it is ready to serve. Dating back to the medieval era, this little gem has made itself a staple during the holiday season.

Canada – Nainamo bars

Making a batch of Nanaimo Bars is never a bad idea!

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Although Canadians make these bars all throughout the year, they are known to be found on mom’s christmas cookie baking list. The traditional Nanaimo Bar includes a chocolate wafer base, topped with a layer of custard, and then finished off with melted chocolate. Canadians love to whip up this sweet treat throughout the holidays as it pairs quite well with a cup of hot cocoa.

Chile – Pan de Pascua

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A main dish during the holiday season, this is not a bread but a cake similar to a sweet sponge cake. It has ginger and honey flavor and contains candied fruit, walnuts, almonds, and raisins. The Chileans created this recipe by combining the German Christollen and the Italian Panettone to make their own variation of fruit cake.

Honduras – Nacatamale

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Tamales are a staple item during the holiday season and in Honduras, it is not hard to find one of these traditional favorites. These tamales are wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks and become the stars of the meal at all holiday occasions. Because they are too good to just be eaten around Christmas time, you can find tamales being made almost year round. 

Brazil – Rabanada

 

Pretty much french toast, but the Brazilian version. They soak the thick bread in an egg mixture overnight to allow it to take up a lot of moisture. After it is fried the next morning, the bread takes the role of a churro and is covered in cinnamon sugar. Someone please book me a one way flight to Brazil?

Portugal – Bolo Rai

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Yet again another rendition of the infamous fruit cake, in Portugal this is known as the “King’s Cake.” The cake contains a large hole in the middle which resembles a crown and is covered with fruit to look like gems. This delicacy is eaten from December 25th to January 6th which is known as “King’s Day.”

Denmark – Ris a La Mande

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This Danish treat takes traditional rice pudding and mixes it with whipped cream, vanilla, and chopped almond and traditionally it is served with a cherry sauce on top. A Christmastime favorite, Ris a La Mande increased in popularity after World War II because it was found that adding whipped cream to the rice made the pudding last longer.

Russia – Kutya

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Rarely served at any other time of the year, Kutya is the first dish of the traditional twelve-dish Christmas Eve dinner. It is a sweet grain pudding made of wheat berry and is mixed with walnuts, sugar, and raisins.

Poland – Pierogi

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Also known as filled dumplings, pierogis are pockets of dough filled with sweet or savory ingredients depending on what you’re feeling. Some common fillings are potato, cheese, fruit, sauerkraut, and ground meat. They are considered a national dish in Poland so it is easy to find pierogis being made year round, but they hold a special place in the Christmas feast.

Norway – Lutefisk

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Lutefisk is a traditional Norwegian dish that is served any time of the year, but is seen in many households as the main dish on Christmas day. It is aged stockfish that is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and mashed green beans.

South Africa – Malva Pudding

A sponge cake made with apricot jam served with ice cream and a warm cream sauce, malva pudding is a Christmas tradition in South Africa. Many people have created variations to this recipe and have topped the cake with goodies such as walnuts and dates.

Argentina – Vitel Thoné

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This very interesting dish originated in Italy, but over time, Argentina grew to love this slice of veal covered in a mayonnaise-like tuna sauce. It has grown to become a staple in Christmas meals as families gather around the table to enjoy this holiday favorite.

Japan – KFC

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The best part is you probably think I am joking, but guess what… This is actually a thing. I was perplexed too, but apparently because Christmas isn’t a big holiday in Japan, KFC convinced people that Christmas and the Colonel have an intimate connection.

They launched a marketing campaign in 1974 calling for “Kentucky for Christmas” and people were hooked. Since then, the Japanese have embraced this culture and trek to KFC on Christmas Eve to get their filling of coleslaw and wings.

So when you are going to make your Christmas dinner menu, keep in mind what the rest of the world is eating, and maybe even try incorporating one of these items into your meal.