Christmas Foods

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Christmas Foods include in virtually all Christian countries or communities provision for a main meal on Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, which in turn incorporates a main dish which is symbolic of Christmas. This main dish is liable to change, the only constant factor being that it is perceived as ‘special’. Thus the turkey which has during the 20th century provided the main dish for most families in England does not represent an antique tradition, for it was only in the 19th century that it began to replace the goose. There is a similar question mark over the traditional christmas pudding, whose ancestry (as plum pottage or plum pudding) can be traced back for many centuries but which in its present configuration and status can also be counted as mainly a product of the 19th century. In other countries it is possible to observe similar gradual evolutions, although what is subject to change may be quite different: a carp, the favoured Christmas delicacy of some Scandinavian families, for example, rather than a bird.