Christmas Traditions Around The Globe

As much as we love a British Christmas at HRA, being an international consultancy with clients across the globe we are always more than keen to try out new Christmas traditions from all around. While many in Britain couldn’t possibly imagine the 25th of December without a fat, juicy Turkey on the table, it seems nearly every nation shares this sentiment about their own traditional Christmas dinner. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 global Christmas Dinner traditions we found the most interesting.

Puerto Rico

For Puerto Ricans, Christmas Dinner is an entire day’s job! Their national dish is the roast suckling pig, known to them as léchon. Vaguely resemblant of what we might call a hog roast, léchon takes it even further, requiring the constant attention of at least two people turning it slowly on an outdoor spit from as early as two am. This is washed down with coquito, a Latin American spin on eggnog made with coconut milk, condensed milk and a generous serving of rum. And Brits think a Christmas Turkey is stressful!


For some, fast-food chains would be the last things on their minds when getting stuck in to the Christmas meal prep. Not in Japan! KFC’s Christmas offering began with their Kurisumasu ni we kentakkii (Kentucky for Christmas) marketing campaign back in 1974, and has since developed into a full package, including cake and champagne. Since then, the deep fried festive feast has become so embedded in Japanese culture that orders must be placed weeks in advance.


In what is known as the ‘Yule meal’, many Icelandic households are partial to serving up a sizeable leg of smoked lamb, alongside a traditional laufabraud (leaf bread) – a wafer-thin bread decorated with intricately cut patterns and shapes. These, however, are some of the more conventional Icelandic offerings. It certainly isn’t unusual to be served puffin, roasted reindeer or even reindeer paté. Run Rudolph, Run!


Whilst dishes such as codfish and boiled potatoes make up the bulk of the savoury offering in Portugal, the real attraction of the Portuguese festive tradition is actually the enormous array of pastries and sweets on offer. Sweet treats such as Finhoses – balls of light, spiced dough dusted with icing sugar and formigos – a sweet, sticky blend of nuts, honey and raisins are much anticipated come Christmas. The centrepiece is even more grand – the Bolo Rei, or ‘king-cake’, a white fluffy treat adorned with nuts and crystallised fruit.


When approached by the faint-hearted, Norway’s festive traditions might even turn stomachs. Served alongside vegetables, the Norwegians are partial to a whole sheep’s head – salted, smoked and dried, before being steamed or boiled for three hours. For those who can stomach it, the eyes and the ear should be eaten first, as these are the fattiest parts, while the brain is scooped out to be boiled or fried. Hmmm, I think we’ll give this one a miss…

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