Celebration Meals Around the Globe

December 17, 2021
Fireworks during celebration at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lagoa Christmas tree appears as part of a larger scenery of celebration.

Did you know that many people in Japan begin their day with soup? Or that, in Greece, they make a delicious a ‘melomarkarona’ which is a honey-soaked cookie made with ground walnuts.  While those are just a couple examples of different ways and things that people eat; there are so many. We love to learn about what and how people eat especially at this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice, there are traditional and delicious meals being made around the globe. Let’s go on a trip and learn more!

First Stop, China:

If you are in China celebrating the Chinese New Year you might be able to enjoy Tangyuan. A traditional soft dumpling that is generally served in a sweet or savory broth. Tangyuan is served on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year (this year that is February 1, 2022) and the round shape of the dumplings and the ball they are served in represent family unity. You can find a recipe in your local library but you can also find them already made at your local Asian market.

Chinese family prepares chinese food tang yuan glutinous rice ball for chinese new year reunion dinner

Next on the list, Iran:

In Iran people have been celebrating Shab-e or Yalda since the Persian Empire which ended in 333 B.C. That means Yalda has been being celebrated for well two thousand years! Yalda, which means ‘rebirth’ is to celebrate the longest night. To celebrate, families gather at their grandparents and enjoy delicious food. They would have fruit, especially watermelon. In fact, there is a myth that says that if one has watermelon on Yalda, they will not get cold in the winter months or too warm during the summer. There are different kinds of traditional meals depending on availability but Khoresh Fesenjoon sounds delicious! Khoresh Fesenjoon is a chicken stew made with pomegranate and walnuts served with saffron rice. I’m hungry just reading about it!

People taking watermelon from a dish

Next stop, Kenya:

For people in Kenya, their holiday begins by traveling to their extended family. They will often leave for relatives at the beginning of December and stay through the New Year visiting and enjoying the company and food everyone makes together. One of the things they will definitely have is ‘nyama choma’. Nyoma choma is Swahilian and means grilled meat. In Kenya that means grilled goat or beef. Alongside the grilled meat there will be chapati, a delicious flat bread, uglai, a traditional porridge, and kachumbari, a tomato onion salad. Sounds amazing!

A table set with plates of Kenyan holiday food

Heading over to Brazil:

Brazil is the largest country in South America, nearly the size of the United States; however, that’s where the similarities end. Here in Massachusetts we’re heading into winter and in Brazil they are in the middle of their summer. They go all out for Christmas beginning with an elaborate fireworks display. They might make a roast turkey, but they may make a ‘chester’ or ‘pernil’ instead. Chester is a large chicken with meatier thighs and pernil is roast pork. Alongside the roasted meat there might be farofa, a savory and delicious side dish made with cassava flour, bacon, onion, garlic, parsley, and chives. It’s rich and flavorful. It wouldn’t be surprising for a chicken or a potato salad to be at the table as well. It all sounds amazing! For dessert they often serve panettone, an Italian Christmas bread. While it might seem surprising for an Italian dessert to be served in Brazil. Brazil, just as the United States, has people from around the globe.

Christmas Family Dinner Table Concept. Christmas Dinner

Last stop, Russia:

The last country we’re visiting is Russia. Russia, as in the other countries we’ve been highlighting, has a variety of delicious foods, both savory and sweet, served during Christmas. Imagine a table with different kinds of serving plates all filled with a variety of delicious food. Due to Russia’s long (and cold!) winters and short growing seasons, Russians pickle everything to enjoy during the winter months. You can bet there will be something pickled at the table. Whether it’s mushrooms or apples or the customary (to us!), gherkins (that’s a tiny pickle) or their famous sauerkraut. Besides the pickles there would also be peljmeni, meat dumplings, kulebyaka, a salmon pie, and pirozhki, a savory pastry filled with meat and spices. For dessert we would enjoy different kinds of Christmas cookies. I’m stuffed!

Holiday pierogi

As always, thanks for stopping by. We love the company! Happy New Year!