Mouth-watering photos show what different holiday feasts look like around the world

ShutterstockTurkey, anyone?
  • Whatever holiday you celebrate, special occasions are often a time when people gather around the table to enjoy a holiday feast.
  • People celebrate Christmas all over the world, but they don’t all eat a turkey and drink eggnog.
  • Koreans celebrate their harvest season with a feast of crops, and Iranians do the same for their Persian New Year.
  • Observant Muslims and Jews abstain from food on their respective holidays, but they both look forward to their traditional meals when they break the fast.

Many people will describe a holiday by the food that gets eaten.

Religious holidays that are celebrated all over the world, like Christmas, can look different depending on where you’re celebrating. And different religious holidays that get celebrated in the same parts of the world can sometimes look quite similar.

Because we all love borrowing recipes from all over the world, take a look at what people will be putting on their plates during the holidays all year long.

Germans tend to celebrate Christmas with a roasted goose, dumplings, and red cabbage.

AlexRaths/Getty Images

They might also snack on stollen cake — a bread made with dried fruits inside and powdered sugar on top.

Joern Haufe/Stringer/Getty

Celebrators in the festive spirit may drink a mulled wine called Glühwein out of decorated, sometimes boot-shaped mugs.

Bulgarian Christmas tables tend to feature stuffed vegetables, soups, and cakes.


Visit Fiji during Christmastime and you may eat banana leaf-wrapped fish, stuffed chicken, and pork.


The pork is typically made in a “lovo” — an in-earth oven made with heavy stones.

Figgy pudding isn’t just something you sing about — it’s an actual dish in the UK.

via Shutterstock

Typically it’s covered with brandy and set on fire. Right at the table!

In some Italian households, the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is celebrated on Christmas Eve with, you guessed it, seven kinds of fish or other seafood.

French-speaking parts of the world also tend to eat seafood during le Réveillon — the French Christmas Eve feast. The highlight of the meal is typically shellfish like lobster and oysters.

And, of course, don’t forget the foie gras.

Traditionally, French meals of any kind are known to go on for many, many hours — long enough to give anyone a little bit of indigestion. To combat that, there’s an in-between course called le trou normand — liquor-soaked sorbet.

sbossert/Getty Images

Source: James Beard Foundation

Sweden traditionally celebrates Christmas with Risgrynsgröt — rice pudding. Whoever gets the bowl with a surprise almond in it will have good luck for the year.

After midnight mass, Costa Ricans typically eat a meal featuring chicken and pork tamales wrapped in plantain leaves.

Carlos Rojas V/Shutterstock

Source: Costa Rica

They also drink a type of eggnog called rompope along with spiced rum punch.

Source: Costa Rica

Ethiopians might feast on doro wat — a stew of chicken, beef, or other meat — during holiday meals.


It’s typically spooned onto a spongy flat bread, which is used like a utensil.

A widely practiced tradition in South African culture is that of the braai — cooking meat over an open flame.

Whether celebrating a holiday or just a Sunday afternoon, you can almost often find South Africans throwing chicken, lamb, boerewors — a type of sausage — sweetbreads, and other meats onto the grill.

Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia as well. Naturally that means firing up barbecue and grilling up some turkey or lamb.

Grilled prawns are also part of a longstanding Australian tradition called “shrimp on the barbie.”

Ghanaians tend to celebrate Christmas with a feast of corn porridge, okra stew, rice, and fufu.

Fufu is a popular mash made from plantain or cocoyam flour. Cocoyam sounds like a yam, but it’s actually more closely related to taro — you can see it pictured on the fufu box.

In Egypt, Christians often eat vegan for the three days leading up to Christmas. Kushari — a macaroni, rice, and lentil dish topped with a tomato-vinegar sauce — becomes staple during these days.

People in India may eat traditional biryani — spiced rice — during Christmas.

Dessert might consist of kheer — sweet and milky rice pudding.

Christmas in the Philippines usually means eating a whole suckling pig … at midnight. The pig usually has a bright yellow ball of cheese in its mouth.

Icelandic Christmas feasts tend to follow a strict schedule. At 6 p.m. sharp, everyone sits down to a meal of cooked meats, including reindeer.

Argentinians traditionally celebrates Christmas in backyard barbecue style with the dish Vitel Toné — veal in tuna sauce. Celebrators might also feast on turkey, pork, and bread.


Joulupöytä is the Christmas spread in Finland that features ham, bread, fish, casseroles, vegetables …

Photo courtesy of Balsam Hill

… and mulled wine!

In the two weeks leading up to lent, Greeks from Cyprus will often prepare by eating a lot of meat and cheese. During the week of Kreatini observers eat a lot of afelia, souvlaki, and tavva — pork stew, lamb skewers, and a baked lamb and vegetable dish.

Source: Little Passports

The week of Tyrini often involves eating a lot of bourekia — sweet and savoury cheese pastries — herb-crusted cheese cookies, Halloumi-stuffed bread, and cheese ravioli.

Source: Little Passports

Koreans tend to celebrate the Korean Lunar New Year with Tteoguk — rice cake soup.

Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Perhaps the most important holiday in Korea is Chuseok — the harvest festival. The feast usually features Galbi-jjim, jeon, and japchae — beef short ribs, savoury pancakes, and a glass noodle dish.

Source: Little Passports

One of the crops celebrated in this harvest festival is rice. To honour the crop, Koreans make songpyeon — rice cakes usually stuffed with chestnuts, red beans, or sesame seeds — a staple food for the celebration.

Source: Little Passports

Hanukkah is typically celebrated with a feast of latkes and sufganiyot — potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts. Both are fried in oil commemorating the miracle that set precedent for the holiday in the first place.

The main dish is typically brisket or roast chicken … or both!

Iranians traditionally celebrate Nowruz — the Persian New Year — with produce that welcomes in the spring.

Source: Little Passports

There’s also ash-e reshteh, sabzi polo ba mahi, and dolmeh barg — noodle soup, fish with herbed rice, and grape leaves stuffed with lamb and rice.

Ty Nigh, FlickrPictured here is polo — the herbed rice dish.

Source: Little Passports

During Ramadan — the holiest month of the year for Muslims — observers fast every day from sunrise to sunset. While the holiday is known mostly for the fast, it’s also known for the special foods Muslims eat when they break the fast every night.

In Iraq, it’s common to find people eating dolma — vegetables and leaves typically stuffed with meat, rice, tomatoes, and spices.

Muslims in Turkey look forward to indulging in Ramazan pide — Ramadan bread. The soft bread is shaped by hand and bakeries often start selling it fresh just before evening prayer time.

Source: The Spruce Eats

Burns Night is a celebration of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. People gather to remember him on is birthday, January 25, with his favourite meal.

The main dish of the annual Burns Supper is Haggis — sheep’s stomach stuffed with chopped sheep heart, lungs, liver, oatmeal, onion, and spices all, cooked together.

iStock/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports
and Visit Scotland

American Thanksgiving is traditionally all about the turkey.

There are plenty of sides to load up your plate with, too. Think green beans cooked five different ways, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, some sort of gourde, and let’s not forget the stuffing.

There’s also often some version of sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top.

If you’re at a pot luck Thanksgiving, you might also find a veggie platter resembling a turkey on the hors d’oeuvre table.

And there must be at least three different kinds of pie to choose from.

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