Believe it or not, Americans have different dishes on their tables for Christmas dinner depending on where they live. Of course there are many foods each region has in common, but there are surprising differences and customs that define the geographically different parts of America. 

New England

potato, sauce, meat, vegetable
Rachel Connors
Sweet potatoes are a staple on so many Christmas dinner tables. Whether they're mashed, baked in a pie, or covered with marshmallows this sugary side dish smells like the holidays. In New England, sweet potatoes get extra scrumptious when infused with local Vermont maple syrup. This can't be anything but delicious.  cranberry, sweet, berry
Emma Danbury

Cranberries are a native fruit of the Northeast. Cranberry bogs and vines can be found all over the New England countryside and coastline. For holiday meals, fresh cranberries are simmered with spices and sugar to bring out the tartness of the fruit. There is definitely no canned cranberry sauce during Christmas in New England.

The Southeast

chicken
Liz Kaplan

Stuffing, referred to as "dressing" in the South, is always on a Southern dining table during the holidays. Usually made with day-old cornbread, this staple is both sweet and savory. The bread is mixed with carrots, celery, and onions. Then it is mixed with eggs and a wide range of spices before being baked to perfection.

cake, cream, strawberry, chocolate, berry, raspberry, pie, sweet, pastry
Mei Lan Fogarty

Red Velvet cake is a classic Southern dessert, but it is especially popular during the holidays because of it's vibrant red color. Covered with cream cheese frosting, this cake is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy. Southern bakers are known to add copious amounts of butter and sugar to their recipes which yields a fluffy, moist cake. 

The Southwest

pasta, sauce, vegetable
Jessi Jordan

Tamales are a true tex-mex custom for the holidays. This authentic dish is made by steaming cornhusks filled with cornmeal. The Mexican style dumplings are usually stuffed with meat, veggies, and spices.

cream, chocolate, pecan, pie
Jessica Payne

Fun fact: the pecan tree is the designated state tree of Texas. So you can bet there's pecan pie at every Southwestern holiday celebration. Made with butter, brown sugar, and warm spices, this gooey crowd-pleaser is always the first dessert to disappear. 

The Pacific Northwest

smoked salmon, rice, trout, meat, sashimi, sushi, seafood, salmon, fish
Lorcan Cannon

The Pacific Northwest is known for it's abundance of salmon. The Western waters produce a variety of the healthy pink fish. During the holidays, salmon is dressed up with a coating of pecans, honey, and mustard to add a sweet crunchiness (so much for being healthy). It is also commonly cooked on a cedar plank which yields a tender, smoky flavor.  

peach, cinnamon, apple pie, pear, pie, tart, apple
Miguel Ramirez

Washington has the highest rate of apple production in the U.S.A. with about 175,000 acres of orchards across the state. Apples are the state fruit of Washington, so you can imagine they are the star of the show when it comes to holiday desserts. Made with cinnamon, almond flour, sugar, and butter, the apple tart showcases the flavor of the fruit with it's festive presentation. 

No matter where you live, this mouth-watering array of holiday dinner traditions shows how holidays are celebrated in so many different and unique ways.