THE BLOG
12/13/2013 10:48 am ET | Updated Feb 12, 2014

What Holiday Food Looks Like Around The World

The end-of-year holiday-season -- whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or any other holiday -- is a time to spend with the people you love the most and to enjoy delicious food. Special holiday foods are frequently considered "the best of the year," partly because they're often reserved for the holiday season and partly because of the good company that usually comes with them (and of course, the holiday season is when most of us feel OK about indulging without guilt). A family-style spread with a ham or turkey as the star of the table might be the most classic holiday meal in many American kitchens, but a typical holiday meal in other parts of the world can look much different.

  • 1 Feast of the Seven Fishes (Sicily, Italy)
    Click Here to see The Complete List of Holiday Food Around the World Though the traditional Sicilian "Feast of the Seven Fishes" indeed included seven dishes of seafood, the amount and type of fish eaten in the Southern regions of Italy today varies — most important is that some fish is included in the meal enjoyed on Christmas Eve. The original idea of serving seven dishes is said to be linked to the number of sacraments or the days God required to create the world. Photo Credit: shutterstock.com
  • 2 Riisipuuro (Finland)
    Traditionally eaten on the morning of Christmas Day (or even throughout the whole month of December) riisipuuro is a porridge made by cooking rice in milk, similar to the common dessert rice pudding. The porridge is often eaten with cinnamon, a nod of butter, and milk or a soup made of dried plums. A Christmas tradition is also to put an almond in the pot of porridge, and whoever gets the almond in his or her serving of riisipuuro can make a wish, or as some people view it, will get married in the near future. Photo Credit: © Flickr /jpl.me
  • 3 Bûche de Noël (France)
    Click Here to see The Complete List of Holiday Food Around the World This classic French Christmas dessert originates from an ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On this day, the Celts would search for a large tree trunk to burn, as the burning log was a symbol of the rebirth of the sun and an offering of thanks to the sun for returning to the Earth. Fast-forwarding in time, the big log got replaced by a smaller branch set in the middle of the dinner table, surrounded by sweets. This branch inspired pastry chefs to create the cake, which we now know as Bûche de Noël, and it's often served after Christmas dinners in France. Photo Credit: shutterstock.com
  • 4 Champurrado (Mexico)
    The thick and creamy hot chocolate drink is traditionally enjoyed on Christmas Eve in Mexico. The main ingredients in champurrado are corn flour and Mexican chocolate, and some variations call for milk, water, or both. For extra flavor, cinnamon or anise can also be added. Photo Credit: © Flickr /kimberlykv
  • 5 Sarmale (Romania)
    Click Here to see The Complete List of Holiday Food Around the World These stuffed cabbage rolls are enjoyed year-round in Romania, but especially around holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The boiled cabbage rolls are traditionally packed with pork, beef, and rice, and boiled in tomato sauce. Similar variations can be found across the Balkans and Central Europe. Photo Credit: shutterstock.com

In Sicily, Italy, for example, Christmas tradition includes the "feast of the seven fishes," and while they may not offer seven different dishes, many families in Southern Italy still see fish as a necessity on the Christmas table. In Finland, the Christmas morning starts with a hearty bowl of rice porridge, while in the Philippines the typical holiday breakfast consists of a sweet and sticky pastry called bibingka.

Click Here to see The Complete List of Holiday Food Around the World

While holiday food may look and taste very different depending on where in the world you go, one common thread can easily be identified is that people don't hold back on the use of cream, butter, sugar, or other ingredients that make for a rich and decadent dish. And as it's a time for celebration, why should they?

To see what a typical holiday food celebration looks like in places all around the world -- from a hot and sunny Christmas in Australia to a traditional Hanukkah celebration in Israel.

-Elsa Säätelä, The Daily Meal

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