Friday 24 December 2010

Our Christmas fare

Lots of people around the world celebrate Christmas and/or the New Year with a feast or at least a special meal, usually involving a family gathering. It's a time to take stock: to reminisce about what has happened in the year just ending, and to make plans for the year ahead.

I thought it might be interesting for readers from other parts of the world to hear a bit about what we consider to be our traditional Christmas fare.

Our main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Day itself, in the middle of the day. We usually eat a bit later than our normal lunchtime, simply because it takes a fair old while to prepare and cook the food - especially if you are having a big fowl or joint of meat which will need several hours of cooking (and who wants to get up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven??)

This is what's the Christmas lunch menu in our home:-

Selection of "nibbles", including home-made spiced nuts: peanuts, almonds, macadamias and cashews briskly fried with salt and smoked paprika

Main course
Roast turkey
Pork sausages wrapped in bacon
Sage-and-onion stuffing
Roast potatoes and boiled potatoes
Brussels sprouts with chestnuts
Carrots and peas
Cranberry sauce and cranberry relish (the relish is spicier and less sweet)
Bread sauce
Gravy (must be home-made!)
Choice of various red and white wines

Christmas pudding with cream
Home-made Rum-and-Raisin ice cream
Mince pies with Brandy butter

Home-made Mince Pies

And then, later on (if anyone has room...)
Christmas cake (a very rich fruit cake, made weeks in advance and "fed" at intervals with brandy)
Dried fruit (dates, figs etc)
Nuts (walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans etc)
Clementines / Satsumas or equivalent
Chocolates and Turkish Delight
Accompanied by our home-made Spiced Vodka

The traditional Christmas cake is covered with marzipan and royal icing, but we don't like the marzipan and icing, so we leave ours plain. To be honest, not much of it gets eaten on Christmas day, because we are usually too full of other things, but we enjoy the cake later on. It's especially nice served the Yorkshire way - with a piece of Wensleydale cheese.

Throughout the Christmas period we usually have other treats that we generally don't eat much of at other times - for instance there's always a tin of chocolate biscuits on the go, into which we dip whenever we feel like it, and probably a big tin of Quality Street or similar chocolates and toffees. The bowl of nuts is available throughout.

Another essential feature of Christmas in our household is the presence of some bags of chocolate coins.

In our family, tradition also dictates that on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day) our main meal is based around a joint of roasted gammon ham, served with Cumberland sauce (made with port wine and redcurrant jelly). Usually Jane cooks a massive piece of meat, only a small proportion of which will be consumed on Boxing Day. The remainder will supply us with cold ham for several days afterwards - and some of it may even get made into a turkey and ham pie... I'll probably be too busy to photograph the finished item, so here it is in its raw state.

Our 4kg piece of gammon

Looking forward to hearing what other people eat for their special meals...


  1. Merry Christmas to you and all your lovely family. In Greece we center our Christmas meal around roasting or bbqueing pork cuts of meat. Turkey is still a bit of a novetly. In the villages there is still the tradition of slaughtering the house pig around this time of year so there is an abundance of pork meat which is also turned into sausages. That's how I got more than 30 pounds of meat the other day from a friend which I hope will fit in my freezer. We are quite relaxed about our Christmas meal because for us Greeks Easter is our big religious celebration, so at Easter time I will come back with our special Easter meal. Nevertheless I do miss traditional Emglish Christmas meals.

    Thanks again for sharing with us all those lovely pictures.

  2. Hi Mariza; Thanks for your lovely comment, and for the Christmas wishes. I look forward to hearing about your Easter festivities in due course. Seeing you write about slaughtering pigs made me think, have you seen Vrtlarica's very informative post on this subject? - see
    All the best from us in England!

  3. Here at my house we always have ham on Christmas (and the turkey is on Thanksgiving), mashed potatoes, gravy, mashed squash, mashed turnips, some kind of regular vegetable--since I met Phil it has usually been corn because he loves corn. We too eat about 1:00 or 2:00 depending upon when the ham is done. We like to have goodies to snack on before that as well. I forgot the assorted nuts this year but we normally have some and some pickles,sweets and always deviled eggs. For dessert there is always pie. This year I am doing pumpkin, apple and a cheesecake.
    Oh and the kids always get the chocolate coins in their stockings.
    We don't have any Boxing day here. You are the second person who has mentioned that, before this year I had never even heard of it.

  4. Oh and I forgot the rolls, always have rolls

  5. Becky, it sounds like your Christmas fare is pretty similar to ours - are your ancestors from the UK? I've been looking at the origin of the term Boxing Day, but it's far from clear. The explanation I like best is that the name derives from the Christmas boxes that employers gave to their servants to reward them for faithful service. These boxes were apparently filled with presents including foodstuffs (probably leftovers from the Master's table!).
    Hope you have a great Christmas feast with your family - and don't forget the rolls, eh?!

  6. Merry Christmas to you and your family. This Christmas will be a little quieter than normal - our 2 sons are away, but I do have hubby, our daughter and my 82 year old Mom has flown down from Johannesburg to spend some time with us. Our Christmas fare is usually similar to yours, except we have mince pies with our morning tea while we open gifts.

  7. In Croatia, Christmas menu varies from region to region but it is generally very rich and abundant. Soup, roast meat (turkey or pork), mlinci (, roast potatoes, gravy, various salads, drinks and variety of cakes and biscuits.
    Well, I guess some weight loss will be in order when all of holidays are gone!


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