See how festive meals differ around the globe

If you can’t indulge in food during the holidays, when can you? The holidays are the perfect excuse to satisfy your taste buds, especially with the delicious foods on offer this time of year. Where you live, of course, depends on what’s on offer.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, you don’t often see a family eating a traditional American feast. You’re much more likely to see them eating tamales. This is a very popular dish in Costa Rica during the holidays, although the composition varies from house to house. Some use pork, others chicken, others potatoes, others sultanas. It all depends on the taste one wants to achieve and the ‘secret’ recipe one’s family has.


Many people enjoy steak during the holidays, but not the time it takes to prepare it. But at least it usually only takes a few hours, compared to Lithuanian kūčios, which can take a whole week to prepare. It consists of 12 dishes served on 24 December, with ingredients such as fish and vegetables. Smoked eel, sauerkraut and herring in tomato/onion/mushroom sauce are probably all common dishes in this festive meal.


Compared to some countries, Germany’s holiday offerings don’t differ much from those of the United States. While meat such as turkey or turkey breast is common in the US, the bird is usually the goose. This is a tradition that has survived since the Middle Ages, although it was not originally established as part of the holiday meal. Germans used to stuff the goose with various fruits, vegetables and spices and add sauerkraut, red cabbage and pasta.


Many people in the US love fast food. But do they like it as much as the Japanese? In Japan, it’s probably a tradition for millions of families to eat KFC during the holidays. Apparently, December 24 is so popular that they have to book their holidays several months in advance. All because in the 1970s, the fast food chain compiled a list of holiday treats that apparently appealed to the Japanese.


Everyone likes different things, so the Finns don’t bother cooking the same meal for everyone. Instead, the Finns tend to serve their festive meals in the form of a buffet, where people can choose exactly what they want on their plate. The menu is usually varied, with favourites such as stew, mushroom salad, marinated herring, ham and carel stew. The same goes for desserts, where@ rice pudding is often served.

It’s hard to imagine eating anything else during the holidays if you’ve grown up with a particular meal. But if you were born in a different country or raised by different parents, perhaps some of these traditions were yours?

Written by Kevin Noah