Bringing European Christmas Traditions Home

Europe has been a hot spot for travel since the days of the Grand Tour. The myriad of countries in close proximity make it a haven for cultural exploration and history, which makes it really tough to return home empty-handed. If you want to provide the perfect souvenir for friends and families, think about bringing back some holiday-inspired food and drink traditions!



In Belgium, it is common to have a special Christmas Eve dinner that includes a pre-dinner drink, followed by a starter course that usually contains fish before getting to turkey as the main event. Turkey also features heavily in Greek Christmas dinners, so if you want to change up your preparation, make the stuffing with ground lamb, raisins and chestnuts.

turkey and gleaners 08


Roast Pork

In Denmark, roast pork is most often the star of the Christmas feast, though recently duck and goose have also become popular. This is a good way to have something a bit more alternative for dinner and impress your friends with a truly European food tradition. If you want to go the extra mile, include boiled potatoes, red cabbage and gravy.

Seafood & Lentils

In Sicily and southern Italy, many traditional Roman Catholics fast on Christmas Eve, but come Christmas Day there’s a feast to be had. Typically, they celebrate by enjoying the Feast of the Seven Fishes, where seafood is the star of the meal. In other parts of Italy, lentils are a big part of the holidays, especially around the New Year because legumes were once seen as a sign of prosperity.


Christmas Cookies

For some non-traditional Christmas cookies, look to Greece, where they have melomakarona, as well as kourabiethas. Melomakarona is dominated by cinnamon, cloves and orange and are dipped in syrup after being baked, then topped with sprinkled nuts. Kourabiethas is a sugared shortbread cookie made with toasted almonds and rolled in confectioner’s sugar.

Mince Pie

Across Britain and the UK, you’ll find people enjoying mince pies as Christmas comes around. These tasty little morsels are filled with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and are as fragrant as they are delicious.

Mince Pies 9

Bûche de Noël (Branch of Christmas)

If any country can be trusted to produce an indulgent treat for Christmas, it’s France! Their Bûche de Noël is a cake fashioned to look like a yule log, often including meringue mushrooms to add authenticity. Chestnut is a traditional flavor to try.


In Poland it’s unlikely that you could make it through a Christmas celebration without sampling their sweet bread, Bobka. It is usually eaten during the Christmas Eve feast after a long day of fasting and is served with other traditional foods like beet soup, herring and boiled potatoes.


Mulled Wine

From Germany’s gluhwein to mulled wines across Europe, this is an absolute Christmas staple. It’s ideal for warming up any guests you have over and is easy to make — just grab some of Tesco’s finest wine and heat it slowly with a combination of spices.

Tricolor Drink

Try this one at your own risk! This colorful drink is made of crème de menthe, vodka and whiskey. It works a treat at Christmastime.

These European traditions will bring some extra flavor to your Christmas!

Images by Nesster and fenwench, used under Creative Commons license 

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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