Christmas Meals Around The World
December 17, 2002 11:01 PM   Subscribe

XXXmas! Wherever and whoever's celebrating, no matter what your religious beliefs are, Xmas (in the Christian-dominated world at least) means over-indulgence and conspicuous consumption. The standard fare and behaviour, however, vary wildly. Here's a standard Christmas menu for Portugal and a glimpse into one of Barcelona's less savoury traditions to start the ball rolling. Just how different are MeFi Xmas experiences? Hey, do they have anything in common at all?
posted by MiguelCardoso (24 comments total)
Hey.Portugese surf n turf
posted by johnny7 at 12:33 AM on December 18, 2002

I've found differences in how people celebrate Christmas even within the same country. When I spend Christmas with my family, we open presents early. When I spend Christmas with my in-laws (like this year) we go to the pub in the morning and open presents in the evening. Fortunately, neither family has some old codger who insists on watching the Queen's Speech..
posted by salmacis at 12:54 AM on December 18, 2002

I saw the "XXX" as thought "cool, a NSFW post.".

posted by jaded at 1:24 AM on December 18, 2002

I want a dainty carrot puff and I want it now.
posted by Summer at 1:54 AM on December 18, 2002

That was very considerate of you, Miguel. Your first link gave me an appetite and the last took it away. Elegantly self-contained.

I'd like to know how many other families out there decorate a ficus and grace the mantle with a carved wooden baby-Jesus-in-swaddling-clothes that strongly resembles a fish. And if you do have such an object, do you call it the Holy Mackeral?
posted by hippugeek at 2:08 AM on December 18, 2002

Every holiday season I enjoy going out and beating senseless all those jerks who feel obnoxiously obligated to every year point out how excessive the holiday celebration has become. Oh...and I enjoy a good eggnog!
posted by HTuttle at 2:28 AM on December 18, 2002

in chile (i know, i sound like a stuck record) people seem to celebrate xmas less than in the uk. only xmas day is a holiday - there's no concept of boxing day. adults don't get many presents (i will get something only from my partner; i guess this is because people aren't as rich and, to be honest, i prefer it). the "big" day, when people have a family meal (no special food, though, that i'm aware of), seems to be xmas eve (despite it not being a holiday). and, of course, it's starting to be summer, so it's glorious sunshine.

learnt all this last night, talking in bed, when it first dawned on me that (unless i do something) there's to be no big xmas-day dinner like i'm used to (turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, sausage wrapped in bacon, peas, sweet corn, carrots, stuffing, bread sauce, apple sauce, brussel sprouts, gravy). being veggie i didn't have all of that anyway, so decided that i'll cook mashed + roast potatoes, peas, carrots, sweetcorn, apple sauce and we can eat that with a "pascualina" pie (despite the name, not connected with the time of year, as far as i know - egg and spinach). there's no pre-packed stuffing here and i don't know how to make it fresh. at the weekend i need to look for cooking apples at the market.

oh, and despite the heat, shops are decorated with holly and spray-on-snow. and father xmas still dresses in big, warm, bright red clothes.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:32 AM on December 18, 2002

That's the funny thing about Xmas in the Southern hemisphere, hey andrew? Even though, here in Australia, it's just about the peak of summer, and 38-degree (Celcius!) xmas days aren't uncommon in Adelaide, we're still obsessed with spray-on-snow, big santa costumes, and a general winter theme.

However, xmas day in Australia is more likely to be a laid back, family affair. Only my brother-in-law's family, who are Scottish, bother to prepare a full roast dinner. Generally, a barbeque's the go, along with a game of backyard cricket and some cold beer. As for me, however, we're getting it all over and done with on xmas-eve, as work schedules and travel plans seem to clash on December 25th itself.
posted by Jimbob at 3:08 AM on December 18, 2002

yup. and i suspect the whole neigbourhood will pong of barbecues here too ;-)
posted by andrew cooke at 3:14 AM on December 18, 2002

Rather than adapt to local (Swedish) culinary custom, we shall, courtesy of my wife, be enjoying a Newfoundland-style feast with stuffed roast turkey, and a Jigg's Dinner (boiled salt beef, potato, turnip, carrot and cabbage), pease pudding and a figgy duff (a boiled sweet pudding)...
posted by misteraitch at 3:37 AM on December 18, 2002

As far as my family traditions go here in Nova Scotia, it wouldn't be Christmas without attending midnight mass which, oddly enough, is held at 10:30pm.
posted by debralee at 4:28 AM on December 18, 2002

Does drinking too much Bailey's and watching James Bond movies count as a tradition?
posted by JoanArkham at 5:07 AM on December 18, 2002

Since this is the first Christmas since my parents split up, all the old traditions are out the window. It isn't too big of a deal, I'm grown up, so is my sister. But Christmas morning, having only one parent there is going to be very strange.
Otherwise, Christmas eve we celebrate with the British/Scottish side of the family, so there's a lot of drinking and singing.
Christmas day is with the Ukrainian side, and we have perogies, cabbage rolls, and studenets.
posted by nprigoda at 5:18 AM on December 18, 2002

Christmas in my neck of the woods is split between my parent's place and my in-laws place. On my parents side, we'll do mass on Christmas morning as nobody seems to want to go to midnight mass anymore (although I do have fond childhood memories of it), a frenzied opening of presents, which is even worse if grandparents are in town, and a traditional christmas dinner later on (supplemented by cabbage rolls as well).

At my in-laws, things get rolling around noon the next day. We have a huge lunch with delicious German food (although my mother in law has taken to making some North American stuff as well). After what seems like a 2 hour lunch we take a breather, then it's on to coffee and about half a dozen cakes, assorted cookies etc... Once that's done we start to open up the presents. Each present is opened oohed and awed over, passed around, commented on etc... I find it more enjoyable then what I was brought up doing, although the fact that my wife has 5 siblings and I was an only child could have some bearing on that.
posted by smcniven at 5:36 AM on December 18, 2002

On Christmas Eve, we decorate our house and yard with hundreds of luminarias which is a tradition from growing up in New Mexico. You don't see luminarias much in Virginia. I fix a huge pot of posole (I use pork roast instead of pig's feet.) and serve that up with biscochitos, tamales and tortillas. We attend Christmas Eve services sometime between 5pm and midnight and open only one present on Christmas Eve.

We open the rest of the gifts Christmas morning, clean up the luminarias and then lay about the house until a mid-day dinner is ready. This is usually ham or roast of some sort, potatoes, a broccoli casserole, green beans and pie.

It's a lot of cooking for just two days, but it's well worth it.
posted by onhazier at 6:19 AM on December 18, 2002

Xmas isn't Mexmas without El Vez. Saw him this year. Much fun.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2002

Does drinking too much Bailey's and watching James Bond movies count as a tradition?
*nods approvingly in JoanArkham's direction*
For us it will be far too much chocolate and the Alien movies.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2002

Being married to a lovely gal of Italian descent has many benefits, not the least of which is Christmas Eve's Feast of the Seven Fishes, a stomach-busting gastro-orgy of epic proportions, accompanied by much wine and boisterous conversation. We eat after a Christmas eve afternoon mass, and then we open presents. Christmas day is generally for sleeping off the previous night's food, or in our case, traveling to my family for a second Christmas dinner. Mmmm... I can already taste the calamari...
posted by jalexei at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2002

Pancakes, and lots of em'.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2002

We are throwing a traditional turkey feast for friends (turkey is practically unknown in Japan, for some reason. Only available at PX, import shops that cater to foreigners and new Costco that opened up in Tokyo, AFAIK). I am ever so grateful that I got my mom to write down the recipe for her legendary apple pie last winter, before she passed away in an accident in spring. Unbelievably, when my wife makes it, it tastes exactly like Mom's. (large JPG of recipe, I have text to email anyone who wants it.)
posted by planetkyoto at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2002

The small Canadian town I'm in right now for school is very interesting. It is a very heavily Ukranian town, and so quite a bit of the town celebrates Ukranian Christmas, which is a bit later than the whole December 25 shpiel. Some time in January, I believe. Some of the town celebrates both, some only one or the other. I personally will be gone home and celebrating with my family. On Xmas eve we open any presents that we have from friends of the family or neighbours, and on the morning of the 25th we open presents from relatives. This year we are having Christmas dinner at with a bunch of people from the church where my dad preaches, all of whom had no other place to go for Xmas dinner. It'll be different and it isn't what we've traditionally done, but I'm looking forward to it.
posted by dgt at 9:21 AM on December 18, 2002

Musician Peter Griesar (formerly of Dave Matthews Band) has his debut album out, Superfastgo, and one of the songs is called "XXXMas." The lyrics include the following, which explains the title: "all I want / for triple-x-mas / is a little piece."
posted by waldo at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2002

onhazier, can I come over your house this holiday? sounds like fun!

We do a huge family Christmas eve thingie replete with food, presents and lots of people. On Christmas day, my sister, my niece and I take my 84 year old mom for a relaxing and traditional New England meal at the Publick House. But the best part of the holidays for me is spending the week after Christmas at my friends' house in Maine, and hunkering down by the fireplace in handmade quilts with four kitties, a stack of books and movies, good food and good other words, turning into a cat for a week... the perfect restful antidote to the seasonal frenzy.

Good post Miguel, nice to get a peek into other people's celebrations.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:18 PM on December 18, 2002

We in retail do not celebrate christmas.
posted by drezdn at 7:39 PM on December 18, 2002

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