A religious holiday celebrated by more than two billion people across the world, Christmas is a celebration that brings with it an array of traditions and exciting events. Though everyone’s idea of what the season should look like differs, there is one aspect that is universal, and that is food. And while customs vary by country, such as when the main feast should be devoured and what it should consist of, there are some standout dishes and drinks that seem to be favourites across the board.
Restaurants and supermarkets around the world carry food specifically for the Christmas season, an abundance of it, in fact. From traditional European recipes to modern twists on holiday classics, there is something yummy for everyone during the holiday season. Here are 10 of the most popular dishes we’ll be tucking into this festive season.
1. Roasted turkey
A plump turkey cooked to perfection is the traditional centrepiece of many Christmas dinners. While this dish may not be that common in some parts of Europe, it is served for dinner on Christmas Eve and again for lunch on December 26th, so it’s included on our list!
Turkey is a traditional Christmas dish – but since August 2014, turkey has been the number one choice for Christmas dinner in British homes, outselling traditional roast beef. Around 22 million turkeys were eaten at Christmas 2013, which increased by 1 million from the previous year.
2. Plum pudding
In England and other areas worldwide, plum pudding – also known as Christmas pudding or figgy pudding – is a traditional treat served during the Christmas season. It consists of suet, dried fruits (in medieval times, ‘plum’ was the generic terms for any dried fruits), flour, spices, and brandy and it has long been a traditional to create this dessert with the family on ‘stir-up Sunday’ – the last Sunday before advent – whereby every family member gets to stir the pudding mixture before it is wrapped and left to mature.
3. Mulled wine
Mulled wine, also called Glühwein, is a sweetened and spiced red wine popular in Europe during the holiday season. Europeans like to serve this hot drink with cinnamon or other spices to make it even more special. It is a popular drink at winter festivals throughout Europe and is often served with a piece of fruit.
Americans love eggnog around the holidays, but many Europeans cannot understand why this is so popular! In fact, in most European supermarkets, you won’t find any eggnog during the holiday season – it simply isn’t a popular beverage there. Yet, it remains a significant part of holiday celebrations in America. It is made from eggs, milk, and sugar-sweetened with honey or syrup to taste.
5. Roast beef
Roast beef for dinner on Christmas Eve is becoming increasingly popular throughout the UK. Just over half (51%) of British adults say they are likely to serve beef when planning their Christmas meal this year, which makes all the more sense seeing as turkey has won out for the main meal on the big day.
6. Plum cake
Plum cake has been a tradition for centuries and remains a festive favourite in Ireland and England during Christmastime. It is made from dried fruit and spices and covered in a thick glaze and was said to originate in Medieval times where it was popular to abstain from any kind of feasting in the weeks leading up to Christmas so that you could indulge when the time came.
7. Mince pies
Mince pies are small; round pies typically contain minced fruit such as raisins, currants, and orange peel. They may also include a variety of spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and are best enjoyed with a mulled wine.
8. Christmas cake
Possibly the oldest English dessert being made from fruits and nuts with sugar and spices to celebrate the Roman festival of Saturnalia. There are many variations of this rich, spicy cake throughout Europe, with each one featuring a different combination of spices and dried fruit. Often served with coffee or liquor after dinner, this is one Christmas treat you won’t want to miss!
9. Roast potatoes
The humble roast potato is so popular at Christmastime; it’s the number one vegetable Britons eat over the festive period! The secret to making good roast potatoes is to parboil them, drain and give them a good shake, and pop them into a tray of hot goose fat for that crispy outer. Delicious.
Gravy is an essential at any festive meal, with the first written recipe for gravy coming from the Roman cookbook Apicius. Gravy is a tasty sauce made from meat drippings mixed with other ingredients such as flour or cornstarch and one of the most popular types of gravy in Britain is made from meat juices with stock added – usually made with an Oxo cube!
It doesn’t matter whether you live in the UK, Australia, Germany, Ireland, or anywhere else around the world, if you’re celebrating Christmas this year and want to celebrate it traditionally, there’s a whole list of festive foods that’ll go down a treat.