Mouthwatering photos show what different holiday feasts look like around the world

Rachel Askinasi
christmas dinner turkey champagne
Turkey, anyone? Shutterstock
  • Whatever holiday you celebrate, special occasions are often a time when people gather around the table to enjoy a feast.

  • People celebrate Christmas all over the world, but eating turkey and drinking eggnog is a historically British tradition, according to culinary historians.

  • Some Koreans traditionally celebrate their harvest season with a feast of crops, and many 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.

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

German Christmas Goose dumplings
AlexRaths/Getty Images

Source: German Foods, Culture Trip, German Food Guide

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

German Stollen bread
Joern Haufe/Stringer/Getty

Source: German Foods, Culture Trip, German Food Guide

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

gluehwein
picture alliance/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: German Foods, Culture Trip, German Food Guide

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

Bulgarian, stuffed vegetable dish
Shutterstock

Source: Free Sofia Tour, Culture Trip, TripSavvy

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

fiji lovo
ullstein bild/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Fiji Islands, Tourism Fiji

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

lovo fiji
Phil Walter/Staff/Getty Images

Source: Fiji Islands, Tourism Fiji

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

figgy_pudding
Shutterstock

Source: British Study Centres, TripSavvy

Typically it's covered with brandy and set on fire right at the table!

flaming christmas pudding
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: British Study Centres, TripSavvy

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.

Italian Feast of Seven Fishes Christmas Eve
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Source: Walks of Italy, The Local

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.

Shellfish
Margouillat photo/ Shutterstock

Source: The Local, French Today

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

FOIE GRAS
M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

Source: The Local, French Today

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.

trou normand
sbossert/Getty Images

Source: James Beard Foundation

Swedes traditionally celebrate Christmas with Risgrynsgröt - rice pudding. Whoever gets the bowl with a surprise almond in it will have good luck for the year.

rice pudding raisins
rojoimages/Getty Images

Source: Culture Trip, Receptfavoriter

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

Tamales
Carlos Rojas V/Shutterstock

Source: CostaRica.com

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

eggnog
picture alliance/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: CostaRica.com

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

Ethiopian wat
Fanfo/Shutterstock

Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, NPR

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

injera
Jorge Fernández/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, NPR

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

South African Braai
Gallo Images/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

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.

braai
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

As it is in South Africa, Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia. Naturally, that means firing up a barbecue and grilling up some turkey, lamb, or seafood.

barbecue
lazyllama/Shutterstock

Source: The Guardian

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

shrimp on the barbie
David Gray/Reuters

Source: The Guardian

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

okra stew and fufu
Lawrence K. Ho/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Culture Trip

Fufu is a popular mash made from a dough of starchy flour - like cassava, yam, or plantain - and hot water picured below. It's typically a finger food eaten with stews or soups.

fufu dough
VW Pics/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Culture Trip, OkayAfrica

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 - can become a staple during these days. The street food is also eaten on other holidays.

kushari
AS Food studio/Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider, Chowhound, StepFeed

People in India may eat traditional biryani - spiced rice - during Christmas. But holiday dishes can vary depending on the region.

biryani
Portland Press Herald/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: The Spruce Eats, Rachna's Kitchen, Masala Korb, Quartz India

Dessert might consist of kheer - sweet and milky rice pudding, which is also made for different festivals across India.

Kheer
IndiaPictures/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: The Spruce Eats, The Guardian, BBC

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.

suckling pig
Grand Warszawski/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Icelandic Christmas feasts tend to follow a strict schedule. At 6 p.m. sharp, it's common to sit down to a meal of cooked meats, including reindeer.

reindeer meat
PeJo29/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

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

Vitel Toné
Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider

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

Finland
Photo courtesy of Balsam Hill

Source: Business Insider

... and mulled wine!

mulled wine
picture alliance/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Hanukkah is typically celebrated with a feast of latkes and sufganiyot - potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts. Both are fried in oil commemorating the story of the holiday.

latkes
Jeff Greenberg/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: My Jewish Learning, Chaabad

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 (the week of meat), observers eat a lot of afelia, souvlaki, and tavva - pork stew, lamb skewers, and a baked lamb and vegetable dish.

souvlaki
NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Santorini Tours

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

borek
VittoriaChe/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Santorini Tours

Koreans tend to celebrate the Korean Lunar New Year with Tteokguk - rice cake soup.

Tteoguk rice cake soup
Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Source: My Korean Kitchen, Gastro Tour Korea via Medium

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

glass noodles
The Washington Post/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Visit Korea

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

korean rice cake
SUNGSU HAN/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Visit Korea

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

nowruz Iran
Amin Mohammad Jamali/Contributor/Getty Images

Source: Bon Appetit, The New York Times

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.

dolmeh
EzumeImages/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Bon Appetit, Bon Appetit, Persian Food Tours

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 (known as iftar) every night.

Muslims Ramadan break the fast
Reuters Anindito Mukherjee

Source: Bon Appetit

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

dolmas
Ahmed Saad/Reuters

Source: Yummly, Business Insider

Muslims in Turkey may 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.

ramadan bread
Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Source: Turkish Cultural Foundation

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

burns supper
Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Source: Little Passports, Visit Scotland

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.

haggis burns supper
iStock/Getty Images

Source: Little Passports, Visit Scotland

American Thanksgiving is traditionally all about the turkey.

turkey
LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Source: CNBC

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.

Downsized Thanksgiving 53
Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Source: Insider

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

Downsized Thanksgiving 55
Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Source: Insider

And there are sometimes multiple different kinds of pie to choose from.

pecan pie
Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

Source: Delish

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