Traditional Christmas Food in Europe

As Christmas draws closer and the plans and preparations are in full swing, one of the main events on Christmas Day is usually the meal that everyone sits down to enjoy. In Australia we have the tradition of the Christmas lunch on December 25th, usually involving a Roast Turkey or Roast Ham that has to be ordered weeks beforehand and prepared in the days leading up to the big day. As Christmas is so hot in Australia usually this roast is accompanied by some hot side dishes, as well as a couple of cold salads. After the huge lunch is eaten it’s time to go and cool off and if there’s a pool nearby that’s usually where you find everyone will swarm to! Keep reading to find out what people around the world are doing for their Christmas Day. If you would like to try a different Christmas Ham this year, check out this recipe.

United Kingdom

With the cold weather outside, and the family gathering together to enjoy each other’s company and to exchange Christmas gifts, the traditional British Christmas dinner for everyone to enjoy is a huge roast turkey, served with a collection of sides. Alongside the Turkey are roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, Yorkshire puddings, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. You may also find this typically English side dish on the table; Pigs in Blankets are Chipolatas wrapped in bacon and baked. You can find a recipe for Classic Pigs in Blankets here.


If you were to visit Italy during the month of December you would definitely know that the festive season is in full swing. With a vibrant and warm atmosphere throughout the country there are Christmas markets and stalls for you to indulge in Christmas treats and find beautiful unique Christmas gifts, Nativity Scenes set up in town squares and beautifully decorated Christmas trees in city centres and in houses. Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th, and some families exchange gifts on Christmas Day after their lunch. Some families wait until the last day of the festive season, which officially runs from December 8th to January 6th, and they prepare a huge feast to commemorate the end of the season as well as exchanging gifts on January 7th. For those families that celebrate on the 25th December, they typically fast during the day on Christmas Eve and eat a light evening meal- this meal usually only includes fish. Some regions of Italy will forego the “light” meal and will prepare ‘Esta dei Sette Pesci’; The Feast of the Seven Fishes. As you can imagine, this includes various types of seafood, and usually ends with a multitude of Italian desserts. On Christmas Day there is a huge feast prepared, started off by platters of Antipasto, followed by Pasta, then the main course which is meat and then finished off with Italian sweets, such as Panettone, Biscotti and Nougat. This meal can go on for hours! If you would like to try your hand at one of the classic Italian fish based dishes, you can find a recipe for Baccala, or salted Cod here.


Families in Poland observe the Advent period. The Advent period officially starts on December 6th, and it is called the Day of Saint Nicholas. Families will celebrate the Day of Saint Nicholas with a feast, and then during the Advent period they spend time making homemade Christmas ornaments, as well as cleaning the house in preparation for the 24th of December. These hand crafted decorations are made with many different items, including the best red apples, selected for their shine and rich colour, painted eggshells, chocolate wrapped into festive shapes, glass balls, garlands and Christmas candles. Polish families tend to focus on the Christmas Tree and the major celebration of Christmas on December 24th, Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve, known as Wigilia, is when the table is set with a white table cloth, and in traditional households families will place hay on the table underneath the table cloth. Some households leave a setting for an unknown guest, just in case a weary traveller or a less fortunate person is in need of a Christmas meal. Families will fast during the day and decorate the Christmas Tree with all of decorations that have been made, and only once the first star appears in the sky will they begin to indulge in their feast. This feast generally includes 12 dishes, in the hope of bringing the family good luck for the following 12 months, and the family must at least eat some of each of the 12 dishes in order to bring themselves luck for the next year. This meal is traditionally meat free, to honour the animals that looked after the baby Jesus in the manger. The meal starts with a wafer, in which everyone breaks off a piece and they toast to each other and share their encouragement for the year ahead. The meal consists of dishes such as beetroot soup, mushroom soup, pasta, herring, jellied fish and the main meal usually revolves around Carp. For dessert the tradition is to serve Makowiec. If you would like to try this traditional Polish dish, see here for the recipe.

If you would like to experience any of these Christmas meals in their authentic country setting, we can book your amazing Christmas holiday to any of these destinations. As Christmas is generally in the low season, you might be surprised how wonderful it may be to go and enjoy a white Christmas!

Please call or email Europe Holidays to talk to us about your ideal Christmas vacation.