O.K. so Christmas has been and gone, and who’s counting to the next one? If you had a great Christmas at home or with family and friends, stuffed yourself silly and drank far too much, spare a thought for all those people in the tropics or in the southern hemisphere who celebrate Christmas. What on earth do they eat when it’s baking hot outside? In fact, just what do other people do around the world when it comes to Christmas fare?
In Australia, there may be still a few families who do the traditional Northern hemisphere turkey and ham thing, but many just heads to the beach or have a barbecue outside in the garden or on a patio. A nice cold beer or chilled wine makes as much sense in Oz as a mulled wine does in Scandinavia at Christmas!
Talking of Scandinavia, Christmas Day is actually not as important as Christmas Eve, but as far as food is concerned, there are certainly characteristically Scandinavian Christmas food traditions.
In Sweden, traditionalists prepare what is known in Swedish as a julbord. This is where a table is set aside loaded with all the goodies for the Christmas meal. That includes the main item, which invariably is the Christmas ham. It is usually boiled and covered with egg glazing, mustard, and breadcrumbs. The ham broth that the ham has been boiled in is kept to one side and Swedes dip chunks of bread in it. It’s called dopp i grytan.
In Norway, one special Christmas tradition is the cooking of a whole sheep’s head or smalahove. Norwegians who have this tradition say that the ears and eyes should be sampled first, while the brain can be spooned out next! Not for the fainthearted visitor!
In sweaty Puerto Rico, Christmas is celebrated with the cooking of an entire pig. It is spit roasted over an open fire and not something that a small family would contemplate. The pig does take some time to cook nicely, so what can be better than a few cupfuls of traditional Puerto Rican eggnog while you are waiting, spiced up with some coconut milk and a dash of overproof rum?
While there are many Christmas food traditions in places all around the world where Christmas has been celebrated for centuries, the celebration has inevitably penetrated places where Christianity (or paganism associated with Christmas) has never been a part of the culture.
In Japan, for example, Christmas may be just the opportunity to abandon anything traditionally Japanese and head down to the nearest KFCs or a Mac Donald’s!