What Do People Eat for Christmas Across Europe?
In Sweden, meat dishes such as ham, hotdogs, sausages, meatballs, and spareribs are staple Christmas food. Other Christmas staples include rice pudding with almonds, marzipan, and the famous Janssons frestelse – a potato casserole with anchovies. All food dishes are served in a Christmas smorgasbord or buffet-style table.
Danes often have roast pork, duck or goose with sidings of potatoes and red cabbage for their Christmas eve meal. For dessert, rice pudding is often served with a generous amount of whipped cream and cherry sauce. In Danish tradition, chopped almonds and a whole almond are added to the rice pudding. It is said that the person who gets the whole almond will have good luck in the coming year and is entitled to a small prize or gift.
Danes are also famous for their spherical pancakes served with sweet jam, and the Julebryg, their high-octane Christmas beer. The Julebryg even has its own special day called the “J-Day.” J-Day occurs on the first Friday of November, at exactly 8:59 pm, when the beer is officially released to the public. The Christmas brew is only available for six weeks, enough to fuel the holiday festivities.
Similar to its Scandinavian brothers and sisters, Norway’s Christmas dishes also include rice pudding with almonds, pork sausages, ribs, and meatballs. One of Norway’s most popular Christmas dish is the Pinnekjøtt. Pinnekjøtt (stick meat) is lamb or mutton ribs that were traditionally steamed over a pile of birch branches or twigs, hence the name.
Another famous Christmas food is the Sm kaker or variety of biscuits and cookies. Old Norwegian tradition states that seven different types of home-baked biscuits should be laid out on the table during Christmas.