Christmas is a time of the year that is heavily steeped in tradition. Tradition which tends to vary slightly depending on which part of Europe you are from. What seems perfectly normal in one country is considered strange in another, as we all look to celebrate the festive period in the same way our ancestors have done for many years.
A big part of this is the food we eat on Christmas Day. Whilst we’re all tucking into our turkey and our tubes of pig wrapped in blankets of pig, revellers in other countries will be enjoying something very different.
Czech Republic – Fried Carp
Whilst we’re busy searching for the perfect Christmas tree to bring indoors, the Czechs are usually on the hunt for the ideal carp. This custom started at the turn of the 19th century and today you are likely to see ponds of carp in city centres across the country in the run-up to the big day. Those who don’t actually want to eat the fish often still buy it and keep it in the bath for a few days, whilst families looking forward to a fried fish and potato salad supper make use of practically all the carp. The flesh is obviously cooked and eaten, and many people place a few scales in their wallet for financial good luck.
Sweden – Ham Dip
From the country that brought the world the smorgasbord comes a festive version to satisfy even the hungriest diner. The centrepiece of this festive feast is a boiled ham that has been glazed, but the fun part is what it’s accompanied by. People will take in turns to dip bread in a broth made from the ham dripping (called Dopp i grytan), as a selection of cured and pickled meats are also laid out for everyone to enjoy. Sounds like our kind of Christmas.
Germany – Grünkohl (Kale Stew)
Us brits like nothing more than a dollop of cranberry sauce on the side of our turkey, but the Germans have eyes for a different side dish at Christmas. As they tuck into a meal of goose or smoked sausage, a traditional accompaniment, especially in the north of the country, is Grünkohl - stewed kale. Recipes will be different from household to household as each family attempts to impress with their own home-cooked version.
Emilia -Romagna, Italy – Tortellini
Italian food at Christmas is more diverse than in any other country, with each region putting its own local stamp on the Cenone (big dinner). Dishes range from seafood to pasta and pork as Italians break their self-imposed fast after midnight mass. Emilia-Romagna is in the north of the country and is a place where you can look forward to meaty pasta parcels served in a rich broth made from colon (rooster).
Provence – 13 Desserts of Christmas
Religious tradition is a big part of the Christmas food in the French region of Provence. From Christmas Eve (when many European countries eat their main Christmas meal) to the 27th, 13 desserts are displayed on the table to represent Jesus and the 12 apostles. The individual options usually consist and dried fruit and nuts (which represent the four beggars), fresh fruit, nougat, fougasse studded with cranberry and sweet treats such as a yule log and biscuits. During the three days, each guest is supposed to have a bite of each dessert to bring them health and happiness in the coming year.
Tradition brings us together at this time of year and, even though the food on the table may be different across the continent, a feeling of warmth and love is felt by all. Merry Christmas from everyone here at Fred.\ Holidays.