5 Must-Try Foreign Festive Foods





The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also when you see everyone’s true colours. Suddenly, the most laid-back and easygoing of people are ready to CUT. YOU. if you threaten to go against their deep-rooted holiday traditions (I know, because I am one of these people).

I don’t want to cut you. I’d rather cut into some of that brie on the cheeseboard, just as soon as I’ve demolished my roast dinner. And this is a mere 20 hours after I’ve tucked into a hot pork bap* in front of It’s A Wonderful Life. Hey, that’s just me and my traditions, developed through 20 years of being raised in the West Midlands by a West Midlands family. This introduction could’ve started very differently had I been, say, born and raised in Japan, or Lithuania. Let’s not let it go on too much longer then; let’s just see how it could’ve gone differently.

*Hot Pork Bap (n) UK: a popular winter treat of roast pork and gravy (applesauce and stuffing optional but encouraged) on a soft, white bread roll

KFC Christmas dinner in Japan

There’s no holiday quite like Christmas for feeding the capitalist machine, but Japan is taking it to whole new levels with their festive foodie tradition. Every year, KFC orders for Christmas Day book out weeks in advance, as thousands of Japanese families indulge in their yuletide tradition of fried chicken.

A result of some very clever marketing back in 1974, the country hasn’t looked back since, with the majority of the country celebrating a finger-lickin’ Christmas.

Lithuania Christmas feast

Like many European countries, Lithuania’s main Christmas traditions take place on Christmas Eve, with the star of the show being a huge 12-course feast to represent the 12 Apostles.

If you find yourself in Lithuania this festive period, make sure someone sets you a place at their table so you can get involved with some traditional sweet poppy seed milk, sauerkraut, pierogi, and more herring than you’ve probably ever been confronted with in your life.

British mince pies festive Christmas
United Kingdom

The Marmite of Christmas, one popular British Christmas snack is the humble mince pie. Second, maybe to Brussels sprouts, nothing divides festive opinion like a mince pie – a sweet shortcrust pastry case and lid with a spiced, jammy fruit filling. Personally, I love a mince pie – especially served hot with cream or ice cream – and my nan makes the best mince pies in the world (anyone who disagrees can fight me).

***Mince pies were made illegal by Oliver Cromwell in 17th Century ‘Britain’ as they, and all other Christmas festivities, went against Puritanical beliefs. This law has never been officially changed.

Spain Three Kings

In Spain, the main celebration is for the Epiphany on the 6th of January, when people will exchange gifts and hold street processions. And eat with loved ones, of course.

The pièce de résistance of this celebration is the Roscón de reyes (other names are available in Latin America, Catalonia and Southern France), a huge oval cake with dried fruit and a hidden statue or dried fava bean inside as a prize for whoever finds it in their slice.



Swedish festive food smoked salmon

Sweden is home to one of my family’s favourite Christmas breakfast traditions: gravadlax. This is basically smoked salmon cured with salt, sugar and dill and dates back to the Middle Ages in Scandinavia.

Although it’s eaten at any time of year, it gets a special feature at Christmastime, especially in my household. Ever since my mom bought some gravadlax as a ‘Christmas treat’ a few years ago, it’s been a regular feature on our Christmas breakfast, alongside poached eggs and Prosecco (at breakfast! I love Christmas).

Drop your festive foodie traditions in the comments!

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