Picturing honey-glazed ham, butter tarts, hot chocolate and pavlova? You simply cannot think of holidays without thinking of food. Food brings the holiday cheer and brings people together, no matter where you are in the world. From Thanksgiving, Hanukkah to Christmas, New Year and everything in between, food plays a central role. Here are some of the most common holiday foods from around the world.

Pasteles – Puerto Rico

Have you ever seen rectangular-shaped packages wrapped in banana leaves in Puerto Rico during holidays? Well, they are Pasteles and are a Christmas classic in Puerto Rico. This mouth watering delicacy is served in almost all Puerto Rico’s households during the Christmas holidays. Yautia, grated green bananas and spices are used to make masa dough, which forms the outer layer of Pasteles. The rectangular packets are then filled with a mixture of ground pork, adobo sauce and spices, are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. They are usually served with rice, pigeon peas, fish and sauce. You need a bit of expertise to make these to perfection, but the effort is totally worth it!

Latkes – Israel

Forget Hanukkah without Latkes. Also known as levivot in Hebrew, these mouth watering potato pancakes are truly a treat. Today, this traditional Israeli holiday dish is enjoyed by Jews all over the world. Shredded potato, onions combined with eggs and breadcrumbs make up the dish and they are deep fried in hot oil, symbolising the oil that lit the menorah for eight days. This fried crispy delicacy tantalises anybody’s taste buds, despite being a simple dish.  They are deliciously served on their own or with other Jewish specialties like challah brisket or matzo ball soup. Tahini or zucchini is added by some Israelis for a twist.

Bûche De Noel – France

Bûche de Noel is a hard to resist traditional French Christmas dessert, sometimes referred to as a Yule log. It is a vanilla sponge cake filled with frosting, rolled into the shape of a log and topped with icing, fondant or fresh fruits. Cocoa powder, heavy cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract are used to make this scrumptious delicacy. The Yule log, also known as the Christmas log, is a ceremonial log traditionally chopped and burned during the Christmas season and Bûche de Nol commemorates this pagan Christmas tradition.  This heavenly dessert is served from Christmas Eve through to New Year’s Day.

Mince Pie – England

Sweet or savoury? You might get confused with this beloved English holiday delicacy. Also popularly known as Christmas pie or mincemeat pie, this holiday delight dates back to the 13th century. Traditionally, Mince Pies were made with ground meat, dried fruit and spices, but as most people prefer it to be a dessert, modern Mince Pies are made of pastry dough, fried apples, raisins, liquor and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Bibingka – Philippines

Bibingka is served for breakfast in the Philippines, particularly during the holidays. Filipinos consume Bibingka after Simbang Gabi, nine days of Catholic liturgy up until Christmas and people often set up food stalls outside churches to sell Bibingka. Bibingka features flour, sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar, and water. They are wrapped and cooked in banana leaves and topped with eggs, cheese or coconut flakes, depending on the preference.

Butter Tarts – Canada

Are you a lover of tarts? Then here’s a good one for you. Butter tarts are little pastries filled with a sweet mixture of sugar, butter, eggs, maple or corn syrup, raisins and walnuts. Canadians enjoy Butter Tarts for dessert, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the early days of Canadian settlement, Butter Tarts were a staple in the diet. Today, they are widely recognised as a national delicacy and are credited as having an authentically Canadian recipe. How about a Butter Tart and a hot cup of coffee? You just cannot resist.

Kentucky Fried Chicken – Japan

You’ll be surprised at the thought of celebrating the holidays with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), but in Japan it is a popular tradition. Since the 1970s, this American fast food brand, tasty fried chicken has been a holiday favorite in Japan when families gather to celebrate. A visit to KFC in the United States might be a quick meal, but it’s a huge holiday tradition in Japan. Those who want Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas typically place their orders many weeks in advance.

Kransekake – Denmark and Norway

Ever tasted a Christmas tree like cake? Kransekake is a popular Christmas time treat in Norway and Denmark, although it can be found all around Scandinavia. Kransekake is referred to as “wreath cake” in English.  This eye-catching dessert consists of 18 layers, being placed beautifully on top of each other to make it look like a Christmas tree. This elegantly decorated almond-flavored dessert is delicious as it looks. While Kransekake is enjoyed on New Year’s Day in Denmark, Norwegians like to serve it closer to Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.

Melomakarona – Greece

Christmas is a big deal in Greece, in case you didn’t know. Some Greeks will abstain from food for several days leading up to Christmas to save their appetites for the big day. That’s how much they love holidays, but they adore Melomakarona over anything during Christmas. It is a sweet cookie soaked in honey and sprinkled with walnuts. Despite their deliciousness, Greeks are forbidden from eating these cookies before Christmas Day, even though they are made days in advance. If you are someone with a sweet tooth, this is something you have got to try.

Pavlova – New Zealand

You might have seen this fancy treat on TV. This exquisite dessert of New Zealand origin has been inspired by Anna Pavlova, a renowned Russian ballerina dancer who visited New Zealand in the early 1900. This baked meringue is topped with fresh berries and has a crust that is both crisp and soft. It just melts in your mouth! This impressive sweet delicacy is served during the summer months and holidays. If you’re spending Christmas in New Zealand, expect this to be on the table.

From festive cookies, tarts, pies to all things savory, holiday treats bring together family and friends. Memories are created, cultures and traditions are celebrated around the festive tables, food being a cornerstone of holidays. If you ever visit any of these countries during holidays, make sure you try these amazing holiday foods without fail and you will not be disappointed.

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