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What international students eat for Christmas

Date:11 December 2019
Author:Asmo
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

As a kid I would’ve thought this to be impossible, but the older you get the less you care about Christmas presents. Instead, you get really excited about Christmas for one reason: Food! Of course, there is family and all that stuff as well but I mean what is better than just laying on the couch and stuffing yourself for 3 straight days? That especially holds true after you have starved yourself with pasta and tomato sauce since September on a meager student budget. In this blog, our team shares their favourite Christmas foods that they enjoy when at home for the holidays.  

Asmo (Finnish/German)

On Christmas Eve, we usually have a classical Finnish dish called Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Stew). It’s a super simple but incredibly delicious dish that gets its great flavour from being braised for up to 8 hours (the longer the better!). The recipe itself is very easy, which I guess is also a reason why my parents love to make it, as it leaves a lot of time to relax and enjoy Christmas itself. In addition to that we usually eat “rosolli” which is a fresh and creamy beetroot salad and some lingonberry jam  along with a sweetened potato casserole.

Traditional Finnish Karjalanpaisti
Traditional Finnish Karjalanpaisti

Ellen (Chinese/Danish)

Since we don’t really celebrate Christmas in China, my family has always celebrated with Danish Christmas traditions. Danish Christmas food is really the best ever, especially when it's made by my grandma. It’s comprised of roast pork with crackling, caramelized baby potatoes, red cabbage and potatoes with gravy. After we’ve eaten our main course, we have a dish called risalamande which is a rice pudding with chopped almonds and cherry sauce. We always hide a whole almond in the dessert and whoever finds the almond gets to have a special gift! After everyone’s stuffed their bellies, we dance around the christmas tree and house singing christmas songs while we wait for Santa to come visit and give us all of our gifts under the tree. Once he’s gone, we all gather in the living room to open up presents one by one. Usually the youngest in the room gets to decide which order the gifts are opened in.

Danish and delicious
Danish and delicious

Danique (Dutch/American) 

Christmas dinner is by far my favourite meal of the entire year. Like most Dutchies, we start off with very extensive pre-dinner drinks and snacks. Think lots of cheese boards, meats, nuts, olives and a wide variety of (alcoholic) beverages. After that we move to the dinner table, where we’ll usually start off with a shrimp cocktail with thousand island dressing (I don’t know if this is common, but we’ve been eating it for years). After that, the main course comes out, which is either a turkey or deer for the meat-eaters or baked salmon for the pescetarians. With the main course, there are too many side dishes to even consider trying them all, making for great leftovers the following days. Dessert varies every year, sometimes it's a Baked Alaska, other times it's an ice cream cake. After dinner, we retire back to the living room for a post-dinner drink.

Classic American: Baked Alaska
Classic American: Baked Alaska

Abigail (British/Australian)  

When I go back to the UK to see my parents over the Christmas holidays, the thing I look forward to the most is the traditional British roast dinner that my mum will make. The centre of the meal is the roast chicken or turkey (although if there are vegetarians joining us for dinner, a nut roast will also be made). There are so many side dishes such as yorkshire puddings, stuffing, red cabbage, roast pumpkin, and all of it is covered in gravy. Everyone has their own favourite side dish- mine is the roast potatoes. At lunchtime, we sit down, pull open our Christmas crackers, read the jokes, put on the paper hats from inside and then we settle down to eat. I also love knowing we will be eating the leftovers of this amazing food for days, as it is always too much for just one meal!

The best thing about Yorkshire? Pudding, of course.
The best thing about Yorkshire? Pudding, of course.

Ariana (Costa Rican)

Christmas in Costa Rica is the ultimate feast. Every family has their own traditions as to which type of food they like to eat on Christmas, but there’s one dish that cannot be missing on the table: tamales. Tamales are a delicious dish made of dough, meat, rice, and vegetables, all enclosed, steamed and served in banana leaves. It’s one of the most long-standing traditions, which has been passed down through generations and making tamales is usually a big family event. My family’s official “tamaleada” (or tamale-making-day) would happen at my grandparents’ home, where everyone would show up to help out and have fun cooking together. One or two tamales will already leave you feeling full, but what’s a Christmas dinner if you don’t end up overeating? We usually accompany our tamales with some pork, mashed potatoes, salad, or roasted vegetables. And of course, you can’t forget to drink some eggnog (we call it rompope)!

Looking for South American Christmas vibes? --> Tamales
Looking for South American Christmas vibes? --> Tamales

Ayla (German)

My family's holiday dinner is one of the highlights of the year. On Christmas Eve we have a weird tradition of eating pizza. The only rule is Food first than gifts. Since my dad usually takes way too long to prepare the pizza, no one is really looking forward to that part. However, the next day my father gets up early to prepare the “real Christmas dinner”: A duck. He usually stuffs it with apples and roasts it in the oven for hours until it is crisp and delicious.My parents also prepare homemade dumplings and red cabbage. On the first Christmas day, my whole family comes together and enjoys dinner until nobody can even walk anymore!

German Duck > Peking Duck
German Duck > Peking Duck

What does your family’s traditional Christmas meal look and taste like? Let us know in the comments below! 

About the author

Asmo
Asmo
Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently doing my Master's degree in European Law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.

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