December 24, 2018 8:07 am Leave your thoughts
…so what’s everybody up to? Just like the Big Day Itself, everybody has their own Christmas Eve traditions. We don’t like to deviate: year after year on Christmas Eve, we’ll eat the same food, choose the same drinks, watch the same films, attend the same religious ceremonies and indulge in the same family arguments.
In my house, it’s the Muppets Christmas Carol, the children’s crib service, a carrot for Rudolph and a glass of whisky for Santa, and some heartfelt wishes for a lie-in the next morning. In the rest of the world, however, people put in significantly more effort. In many countries, Christmas Eve is the big celebration, with Christmas Day really the morning after the main event. It’s on Christmas Eve in Germany, for instance, that presents are opened. In Sweden, Christmas Eve is the day of the big smorgasbord (did you catch our Swedish vegan Christmas blog?). In Eastern Orthodox countries, the whole night is likely to be taken up by a religious vigil and ceremonial breaking of a fast.
Food features heavily in Christmas Eve traditions. In Bulgaria and Poland, an ‘odd’ number of dishes should be served on this night, with every guest obliged to try some of each. In Russia, the traditional number of dishes is twelve, to represent the twelve disciples. Some Orthodox countries fast on the day itself, or eat meat-free dishes. Other countries, such as France, see Christmas Eve as a chance for a blow-out feast.
Christmas Eve food around the world
Only Father Christmas can hope to get all round the world in one night. But for those who might fancy a trip abroad in spirit, here are a few selected Christmas Eve dishes and traditions, from countries all over the world!
France: the Christmas Eve Reveillon meal is the culinary highlight of the French year. It begins, rather disconcertingly, after the return from Midnight Mass. It’s likely to feature caviar, smoked salmon, oysters, lobster, foie gras, snails, chestnuts, fish and fowls, with 13 desserts waiting for you at the end!
Bulgaria: at the other extreme, Bulgaria is still in fasting mode, although a meal is enjoyed. Tradition dictates that the table is left uncleared at the end, to allow the ghosts of deceased family members to pick at the remains of the bean soup, walnuts, stuffed peppers, honey and dried fruit compote.
Italy: in Italy, it’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes, with fish and seafood taking the starring role at the table. Cod, seabass, calamari and scampi all traditionally feature, but you’ll be relieved to know that the final seventh course is permitted to be a non-fishy dessert!
Russia: the period of fasting may continue until the first star appears in the sky. Once it’s been spotted, Russians may tuck into a porridge made from wheat or rice and served with honey, seeds, nuts and fruit, all eaten from a common bowl. (It’s also traditional to throw a spoonful of the porridge up to the ceiling – if it sticks, you’ll have good luck. If it doesn’t, you’ll have porridge on your head.) A meal of twelve dishes follows, including borsch and sauerkraut, finishing with a sweet drink made from honey and dried fruit boiled in water.
And in the rest of the UK? Well, we’ve so far failed to come up with any hard and fast traditions – meaning that you’re perfectly free to create your own. You might plump for the Italian seafood, the French luxuries, the Swedish smorgasbord – or something else altogether.
Whatever you choose, and whether fasting or feasting this year, we wish you Bon Appetit. And to all our readers and customers: a Happy Christmas!chestnuts, christmas, Christmas Eve, dried fruit, honey, Nuts, Rice, Seeds, tradition, walnuts
This post was written by Yzanne