Christmas is a time for catching up, getting together, and of course, eating! During Noche Buena, we would serve multiple dishes that fill the table and refrigerator because we want to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in a festive manner.
If we’re talking about a Filipino-style Christmas dinner, there would for sure be a kind of pasta, lumpiang shanghai, Christmas ham, and the timeless (and crowd favorite) mango float. (Read: ‘Christmas Star’ to Shine Again This December, After 800 Years)
For us, these are the ‘normal’ dishes we would see at the table every December 24. But of course, other countries also have their own version of ‘normal’ meals and delicacies that they cook for this occasion.
My Pope Philippines lists some of the ‘usual’ Christmas dishes that are served around the world— just keep in mind that these might not be our kind of regular food for Noche Buena.
Christmas Meals in South Africa: Fried Worms
Every Christmas, those living in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and northern parts of South Africa look forward to eating an edible fat worm called mopane. Known as an important protein source, the mopane or caterpillar of the emperor moth is usually harvested before Christmas arrives— hence it has become an African holiday staple over the years.
For their Noche Buena, Africans would serve fried mopane that is usually paired with a polenta-like dish.
Christmas Meals in Japan: KFC
In the Land of the Rising Sun, KFC is a big thing during the holidays. It started in the 1970’s when the fast food chain’s campaign “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii” (Kentucky for Christmas) went viral. And since turkeys are hard to find in Japan, chicken was the next best thing— thus making it a successful campaign. (Read: 3 Must-Try Items From the New Daiso Japan Food Hub)
And now, the KFC Christmas bundle is a staple in Japan, as it includes cake and champagne— perfect for the festivities. Customers would even order months ahead because of the demand!
Christmas Meals in Norway: Roasted Sheep Head
If in the Philippines, the ulo ng lechon is a staple on every Noche Buena table, in Norway, an entire cooked sheep head is served on every Christmas plate— yes, an entire sheep head served just for one! (Read: Love lechon? Here are four fun facts about this Pinoy favorite!)
Called the Smalahove, the sheep head is roasted to perfection and its entirety placed on one’s dinner plate with some side dishes. This dish is one of Norway’s regular centerpieces during the holidays.