SAN ANGELO, TX - As the festive season approaches, families worldwide are gearing up for Christmas celebrations, each with its unique culinary traditions that showcase the diversity of global tastes.
From KFC in Japan to live carp in Central Europe, Christmas feasts reflect the rich cultural tapestry that makes this holiday special.
In Japan, the Colonel Sanders-inspired tradition of enjoying KFC for Christmas dinner has become a phenomenon. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families partake in this annual ritual, contributing significantly to KFC's yearly sales, where Christmas accounts for roughly one-third of the franchise's revenue.
Meanwhile, in Central Europe, a quirky Christmas custom involves keeping live carp in the bathtub, because nothing says Christmas like a carp in a bathtub.
Families in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia follow this age-old practice, with the belief that a pescatarian Christmas Eve feast brings both tradition and luck.
There are a few reasons to go to the trouble of giving up access to your tub for a couple of days. For starters, you know the fish you’re getting will be fresh. And some home cooks swear that giving these bottom-feeders a chance to clear their digestive tracts results in a cleaner flavor profile.
The carp cared for in the days leading up to the holiday, may end up as a savory aspic, a fish soup, or breaded and fried, depending on the culinary preferences of the region.
Heading to Yorkshire, England, the festive table is graced by Christmas cake, a dense, boozy confection of dried fruit and nuts served alongside cheese—a delightful twist to the traditional fruitcake enjoyed in many other parts of the world.
In Finland, the 24th of December marks the traditional Christmas dinner, featuring a spread that includes beetroot salad, Christmas ham, salmon, herring, and a variety of vegetable casseroles.
Sweet treats like pipari (gingerbread cookies), rice pudding, and joulutorttu (star-shaped plum tarts) add a sweet note to the Finnish celebration.
Across the Atlantic in the United States, Christmas dinners vary widely, with popular dishes including roasted or mashed potatoes, turkey, bread or rolls, stuffing, prime rib, roast beef, steak, chicken, roast pork, and ham.
However, not all dishes receive equal enthusiasm, as tofu, plantains, turnips, goose, cabbage, collard greens, duck, coleslaw, black-eyed peas, and empanadas are considered less popular choices during the festive season.
As the holiday season unfolds, families around the world continue to gather around tables laden with cherished dishes, blending flavors and traditions that make Christmas a truly global celebration.
What unique culinary traditions does your family embrace during this festive time?
Share your Christmas feasts in the comments below.