With Christmas near upon us, many celebrate the festivity with grand anticipation. In this entry, we discover European Christmas Recipes and Dishes that are celebrated and emulated with pride.
History of Christmas and Pre-Christianized European Festivities
The first Christmas in Europe to be celebrated occurred in the Roman era, during the year 336. Although the holiday has ancient roots and customs that celebrate the birth of Christ, Christmas has become dominant with Christendom’s spread.
From here, many European Christmas Recipes and Dishes arose with time, and traditions became formed. On the other hand, Europeans have been celebrating the arrival of the cold and dark winter months in unique manners.
For example, before there had been Christmas, Scandinavians celebrated solstices and grand feasts that would last days. Followed by having cattle slaughtered and wine ready to enjoy as food became scarce in frigid winter conditions.
Interestingly, they practiced burning logs that stayed ignited for up to a week. To add, each spark became believed to signify the oncoming future calf’s or pigs’ arrival for the security of harvest.
For the most part, mid-December symbolized a great supply of nourishment for ancient Europeans. In other parts of Europe, individuals worshipped gods that related to agriculture and crops during Christmas time.
Evolution of a Holiday and Festivity
Next, Christmas in early times did not become considered a major holiday as Easter dominated that title. The process takes a couple of centuries for Christmas to become what it is known as today.
With this said, various countries throughout the continent continued evolving and holding steadfast to their customs of festivity. Fast forward to modern times, you can now discover an array of exciting and memorable recipes and dishes in territories.
As we delve further into this article, we will become better acquainted with Christmas dishes throughout the continent.
On Christmas Eve (Le Réveillion de Noël and Kerstavond) an exclusive Belgian feast occurs. The dishes range from Apéritif (Light alcoholic drink), seafood, and lastly stuffed turkey.
For dessert, there is “Kerststronk” which is a chocolate sponge log layered with cream and decorated beautifully for Christmas. These items provide a remarkable experience for Belgian families as they gather to celebrate the holiday.
To add, in the weeks before Christmas, Belgians like to visit Christmas markets and enjoy other delicacies. To illustrate, they indulge in hot wine, and sweet fried dumplings while interacting with new and old faces.
One of the main highlights for children in Belgian to eat is getting served Cougnoux (Traditional Christmas Cake). This item becomes met with delight and comfort because it can be enjoyed with hot chocolate.
Moreover, the decoration of the cake varies by region throughout the country. For example, in the province of Hainaut, the cake becomes decorated with terracotta circles.
All in all, Belgium provides an interesting perspective of recipes and dishes in European Christmas celebrations.
Known as the land of Christmas with its eye-catching Weihnachtmarkt and various celebrations come tasty dishes and recipes. German cuisine at Christmas is unparallel to its other European siblings.
For the festive occasion, Germans indulge in roast goose, carp, or duck along with red cabbage and marzipan. In addition, some side dishes range from roast potatoes, kale, and Brussel sprouts.
Another is inhabitants eating sausages like bockwurst, wiener, and potato salad. Equally important, comes desserts from Lebkuchen, fruitcakes, and bread.
To top it off, the main cake served is Dresdner Stollen, which comes from a recent historical revival. Germany is unique in its Christmas festivity of dishes and recipes because there are several items to eat.
Germans love to celebrate Christmas all out by emulating culinary expertise and careful execution of cooking dishes and recipes.
As you make your way southwards in Europe, you find that Italy provides some intriguing dishes and recipes for Christmas. One main Italian dish served during Christmas is the “Primo”.
It has become known as a soup made with pasta that gets boiled in a capon or meat broth. The second item Italians indulge in is “Secondo”.
This dish and recipe vary greatly in the southern and northern parts of the country. For example, in Northern Italy, stuffed roasted chicken seasoned with mostarda becomes the norm.
On the other hand, in Southern Italy, Secondo is made up of fried eel with Panettone. The item consists of a spongy and fruity Christmas cake that can also be enjoyed with a cup of hot cocoa.
The recipes and dishes of Italian Christmas are compelling to witness because each province provides original approaches to cooking. Besides this, pasta also finds its way into the menu as the country holds high records of consumption.
Christmas dishes and recipes in the Czech Republic offer a quirky approach to serving others. One of the most valued items in Czech Christmas cuisine is fried carp.
Czech individuals like to purchase the fish well before the holiday, so they preserve it in bathtubs. Furthermore, there is also the addition of potato salad to top the cherry of the feast.
Recipes vary by family, and the main ingredients pursued are boiled eggs, mayonnaise, pickles, and vegetables. Equally important, come dessert, which is cookies.
These are highly valued in the country as they typically are presented in pleasing decorations that expand beyond one’s memory. The next main dessert is the Vanocka cake.
It is like Polish, Hungarian, and other eastern European breads, but has become recognized by its customs. To illustrate, the cake becomes baked with a coin.
Next, whoever finds the coin when consuming the cake becomes marked for good health. All in all, dishes and recipes for Czech Christmas provide an eccentric experience and ideas.
In the mystical land of Lithuania, Christmas recipes and dishes have become recognized for their one-of-a-kind delivery of festivity. In most Lithuanian Christmas dishes and recipes, herring dominates most dishes as it becomes served with almost everything imaginable.
To add, one side dish Lithuanians like to add to herring is potato or white salad. The next item is Kūčiukai, which are crouton-sized dough entrees.
Another is poppy seed milk, which is like eggnog that can be enjoyed alongside cookies. Finally, the main dessert is Šakotis, which is a unique pine tree-shaped cake.
The cake is found on almost any large, celebrated including Christmas. Although not recommended to make at home due to extreme difficulty perfecting, it it has become a stamp for Lithuanian Christmas.
The origins of this can go back to the fifteenth century during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth era. In summary, Lithuanian Christmas dishes and recipes also bring appealing versions of food available for inhabitants to rejoice in.
Christmas in Latvia offers an irresistible entrée of recipes and dishes for everyone to enjoy. From Christmas roast, grey peas, bacon rolls, cabbage, sausage, and gingerbread, you surely will achieve a full stomach.
Moreover, one other crucial item in Latvian Christmas dinner is Pīrāgi, which are oven-baked crescents filled with smoked meat. Interestingly, these baked treasures are only cooked twice a year.
Next, one of the main desserts at Latvian Christmas is Piparkūkas. They consist of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, and allspice, which provide a rich flavor in the time of festivity.
The Piparkukas serve as a signature item for Christmas dessert. In all, Latvians’ Christmas recipes and dishes emulate contentment and convention.
Our next country to explore European recipes and dishes is going to Ukraine. In this charismatic and strong land, Ukrainians begin feasting after singing the traditional song of Boh Predvichnyi (God Eternal).
This custom has become taken seriously in Ukrainian homes because of its religious motivation deriving from the star of Bethlehem. To begin, Christmas dishes and recipes in Ukraine consist of Kutya, simple soup, and Kolach. Kutya is a dish made up of wheat and berry. Followed by possessing poppyseeds that get cooked all day in honey.
Simple soup is popular amongst vegetarians as it is meat-free and offers side dumplings named Pyrohy (Dumplings). Furthermore, these dumplings can have sauerkraut and potato with cottage cheese.
Equally important, comes the Kolach, which consists of bread braided into a ring. This symbolizes the spiritual beliefs of Ukraine with the holy trinity in the orthodox faith.
One signature Christmas cake is Perekladanets that is made of sweet yeast dough, poppy seed, apricot, walnut, and cinnamon sugar. In brief, Christmas dishes and recipes in Ukraine provide a nice edition of items for traditional entrees to feast on.
Christmas in Hungary provides some all-around natural and organic dishes and recipes to enjoy. Dinnertime during the festive season in Hungary is vital because it serves as a three-day holiday for inhabitants.
One national cultural phenomenon is Halászlé (Fisherman’s Soup). The item consists a red soup made of paprika, carp, and sometimes river fish.
Along with the soup, a cabbage roll known as Töltött káposzta becomes served alongside the national Christmas dish. The cabbage roll becomes covered with cabbage leaves and filled with pork and other meats.
To top off the main course, desserts consist of Beigli. This item has poppy seed and a walnut stuffed together. Another dessert is szaloncuko, which provides a rich blend of jelly, coconut, and marzipan covered in chocolate.
The last staple of Hungarian Christmas dinners is the Beigli. This is a Christmas cake that carries a savory reputation for possessing ingredients like chestnut puree, grated apple, or Nutella.
Overall, Christmas dishes and recipes in Hungary provide exceptional results for one’s taste buds and celebration of the holiday.
During Christmas in Slovenia, there is an inside joke that says, “There is no room for glass on the table”. As hilarious as it sounds, it proves to be true with the various amounts of dishes and recipes we discover.
Some Christmas Slovenian entrees are homemade sausages, roasted potatoes, and sweet dumplings. To boost the flavor of potatoes, Slovenians add cracklings with sauerkraut and pickled turnip.
Next, the dessert to end the feast is Štruklj (Sweet Dumplings). The dumplings ingredients vary by family, so it becomes open-ended.
The last item and signature cake for Slovenia is Potica. The cake becomes rolled with various luscious fillings like nuts, cottage cheese, raisins, poppy seeds, tarragon, and chocolate.
Overall, this creates the perfect setting and aesthetic for celebrating Christmas with grand festivity.
Our next destination for European Christmas recipes and dishes comes to Serbia. Christmas festivity in Serbia creates an aura of cordial gatherings.
For example, the česnica (Money bread) becomes available on the table before Christmas day. Tradition promotes for Serbs to not eat the bread until the first visitor arrives and takes the piece.
The main Christmas dish consists of various soups and beans. Tomato, fish, and bean varieties are also available. Salata od pasulja (Kidney bean salad) also becomes part of the feast.
For dessert, there are Lenten cookies that make a vegetarian’s dream come true since there are no eggs or milk. It’s safe to say that Christmas recipes and dishes in Serbia are more healthy than other European counterparts.
In short, Serbia provides an interesting list of items to eat during Christmas.
Our last location for European Christmas recipes and dishes lands in Croatia. Christmas time in this country has become a mark of extreme pressure on time management.
Some entrees created in Croatia during Christmas are turkey, duck with mlinci, roasted lamb, or suckling piglet. Depending on the families’ preferences, there always comes potatoes and olive salad.
To add, desserts consist of Fritule, medenjaci, vanilla crescents, apple strudels, linzer cookies, walnut, and poppy seed rolls. The main Christmas cake that is a treasure in Croatia is the Fritule. They become presented in small-sized balls.
Cleverly flavored with lemon, orange, and grape zest. The last tip to creating the signature flavor is icing sugar.
Indeed, there are a plentiful recipes and dishes in Croatia to enjoy during Christmas. For this reason, many heads of the house become stressed about the selection of items to make on-time.
Significance of European Recipes and Dishes that Emulate Festivity
From various sweets, sausages, ducks, cakes, and coco, Christmas promotes an astounding selection of recipes and dishes in European cooking. Christmas time is a period of celebration and giving.
Although much continues to evolve in recipes and ingredients, the motive persists. Meaning that there is always a promotion for providing better results in cooking.
Culinary arts are indeed crucial in European cultures because they emulate soul, expertise, and time. From a recipe shared with one generation to the next, it becomes up to successors to continue/expand on this knowledge.
Festivity during European Christmas serves as the placement of the cherry on top of the cake.