From sweet festive melodies, to decorations, special food and extra time to spend with friends and family; we love all things Christmas here at The Pudding Lady! Although Christmas time is often portrayed in movies and songs as a winter wonderland, we southern hemisphere dwellers get to celebrate and enjoy our own unique traditions.
This made us wonder about other memorable and unique Christmas traditions from across the globe, and after some research we’ve picked our favourites to share with you here!
THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, NORTHERN FRANCE & LUXEMBOURG
Although not technically Christmas, many Christmas traditions around the world have been inspired by “Sinterklaas”, an event held from December 5th-6th in the European countries above. Sinterklaas, aka St. Nicolas, is the patron saint of children, and brings them gifts for this holiday celebration which inspired modern day Santa Claus.
He arrives via steamboat (supposedly from Spain), and parades through the street on his horse giving out gingerbread-like cookies, which are welcomed by the cheers of children. The parade is so popular that the event is even broadcast live on national television! Carrots, hay or sugar cubes are left out the eve before for his horse, and a popular gift children receive is a giant chocolate shaped in the first letter of their name.
In terms of festive Christmas food traditions, Dutch treats generally consist of Kerststol, a spiced fruit loaf, Speculaas spiced biscuits, apple fritters, and of course mulled wine!
Royal Christmas Message
This British tradition began in 1932 with George V, and Queen Elizabeth II has delivered the televised speech for the last several decades. This British Christmas tradition and message of gratitude to the public is screened in many countries around the world.
Did you know the humble Christmas cracker originated in England too? These festive table decorations were first created in the mid-19th century by a sweet maker named Tom Smith. He included a small motto or riddle in the packaging of sweets around Christmas time and later added the “crackle” element.
Love it or not, you will most probably have tried (or at least heard of) eggnog! Although this beverage is now consumed almost exclusively at Christmas time and is synonymous with the USA, it began as a wintery drink for British aristocracy who could afford the ingredients (raw eggs, milk, cream, sugar and alcohol), and could use more expensive brandy or wine (now more often rum) to prevent it from spoiling.
Oh, and don’t forget the tea. Any Christmas spread worth its weight will include a cup of tea and a Christmas pudding, made with authentic ingredients and hand wrapped, just like The Pudding Lady’s traditional version, which you can find here! You can even push a silver coin inside for maximum authenticity – just make sure you let your guests know so no one swallows it whole!
What is this, you ask? Again, America has borrowed from Europe with the Yule Log. This tradition dates back hundreds of years to Scandinavia, where families would select a log to burn around Christmastime with the condition that they didn’t have to perform their usual work until it was entirely burnt to ashes.
In America, there is a television station that broadcasts the image of a burning fireplace for 24 hours, so households that don’t have a fireplace to burn their own log can still have a toasty warm flame and ambience in the background.
As mentioned above, Santa Claus was inspired by Sinterklaas, with a few American twists. American Santa is a BIG fan of milk and cookies (who can blame him) and his grey horse and steamboat have been replaced with a reindeer led sleigh instead.
Turkey has always been a huge feature at Christmas lunch/dinner in America, but what about the “turducken”? Louisiana Chef, Paul Prudhommea, created this dish which was a turkey stuffed with a duck, that was stuffed with a chicken! It was a popular Christmas dish in the 1970’s and has maintained some prominence since.
In 1970, Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in Japan began promoting fried chicken "party barrels" to substitute the traditional American Christmas turkey dinner. At the time Christmas celebrations in Japan lacked widespread traditions and the advertising campaign was so popular nationwide that it is now an annual tradition and widely practiced custom for over 3 million Japanese families.
Now let’s return back home to Australia after our trip across the globe together!
A lot of our Christmas traditions are motivated by our warmer weather, and we are no strangers to a Christmas BBQ, spot of backyard cricket, and seeing Santa in his swimwear on a deck chair rather than rugged head to toe in a plush red suit!
Many of our other best Christmas traditions have been passed on from the United Kingdom, such as the humble Christmas Pudding. We love it with lashings of extra thick brandy custard sauce or our decadent spoonable caramel sauce over the top! At Christmas time our 1kg traditional pudding is particularly popular, is also available in sugar free and gluten free varieties, and we have a 500g vegan version available too, so there really is something for everyone at the dinner table.
Just like the English did, each pudding is hand-finished and crafted from the finest natural ingredients and can be found here!
The best part about Christmas is making your own traditions and adding the new with the old, so however you like to celebrate, we wish you all the festive cheer and fabulous food with loved ones.