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For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

New York City
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For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

There have been any number of threads in the past in which British visitors have asked about places where they can have a "traditional Christmas dinner." Clearly, this is a phrase that means something to Britons, in the same way that "a traditional Thanksgiving dinner" would mean something to Americans. However, while in the US there is certainly a traditional and stereotypical menu of food items that one would expect to find on the table on Thanksgiving, it might surprise British visitors that there is no such traditional menu for Christmas. Because of the enormous diversity of the backgrounds of Americans who celebrate Christmas, the foods that families serve at Christmas vary tremendously. Some people serve goose, some serve roast beef, some serve ham, and for Italians the big meal associated with the holiday is the Christmas Eve dish composed entirely of numerous kinds of seafood. I know some people who think that Christmas dinner would not be Christmas dinner without potato salad, while in my family serving potato salad any time in December would have been thought bizarre. In brief, then the phrase "traditional Christmas dinner", while clearly having an obvious meaning to Britons, is in fact largely meaningless to Americans.

Therefore, in order to help those who might ask in the future about a "traditional Christmas dinner", I would ask the Britons on the forum to tell us puzzled Americans exactly what it is you understand this phrase to mean. Is it particular traditional foods, and if so, what are they?

Sheffield, United...
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1. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

It would be turkey with sides such as roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, carrots, gravy. I am sure some others will add more to my list.

Hove, United Kingdom
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2. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

Adding to the list, mini pork sausages wrapped in bacon, stuffing, bread sauce and cranberry sauce.

This will all of course vary from household to household.

Isle of Man
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3. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

Don't forget the brussels sprouts, can't have a Christmas dinner without the sprouts!

Hove, United Kingdom
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4. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

BTW although the above is what most Britons would consider 'Traditional', many people in Britain will also have Beef, Goose, Ham etc, or even something completely different as in the US.

I always cook a traditional dinner, and for me this is the best part of Christmas having the family round the table in the same way I'm sure Thanksgiving dinner is for the majority of Americans.

Oh and for dessert it is traditional to have Christmas pudding with either custard or Brandy butter and in more recent years Trifle seems to have secured a place on the Christmas dinner menu.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

News to me. We usually have Indian food. Not only was I born in America so were my parents and grandparents and maybe even my great grand parents. But thanks for the info. I usually do not know hat it means ether when people ask for traditional Christmas dinner.

Ipswich, United...
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6. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

For the last hundred years or more it's a roast meal usually with Turkey (and stuffing!) as the centrepiece, with Brussels sprouts and parsnips somewhere in the mix. I'm a bit surprised at the above poster referring to Yorkshire pudding, as that's traditionally something eaten with beef, though in recent years it seems to be increasingly used with other meats as well (I'm willing to bet that contributer is much younger than I am!). A comparatively recent introduction has been cranberry sauce with the Turkey. This was virtually unknown in the UK fifty years ago, and I suspect some American influence there! There was a time when goose was the centrepiece meat, but Turkey began to take over in Victorian times.

essentially-england.com/christmas-in-england…

For dessert there is Christmas pudding, based on the medieval plum pudding. This is accompanied by brandy sauce or brandy butter. The Christmas pudding is traditionally doused in brandy and set alight before serving (don't worry, the rather strange blue flame splutters out pretty quickly). Christmas puddings used to be round, like a large cannon ball, but now they are more likely to be the shape of an upside-down basin (there's an obvious reason for that!).

…blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html

Yalesville...
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7. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

GWB - what a great question - diversity it is - I worked with a woman of Italian descent and their 'traditional' Christmas Eve meal included salt cod (baccala, I believe) and lasagna and or some type of pasta along with other members of the fish family.

In our family, we are descendants of Hungarians, French Canadians and Irish on my wife's side. Christmas Eve, my brother usually will have lobster pie, a couple of homemade soups, roasted tomato is always a hit and and the entree varies year to year, sometimes a roast of beef or lobster pot pie and a pasta casserole, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese - all buffet style.

Christmas day my daughter has traditionally served baked stuffed shrimp and beef tenderloin for the last several years - that's our holiday food!

As mentioned, Thanksgiving really is the only major US holiday with a 'traditional' menu as far as I know.

Naples, Florida
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8. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

Poppa --

How about barbecue for the Fourth of July -- especially burgers and hot dogs? :)

Yalesville...
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9. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

crankycook 'barbecue' means different things to different cultures - we barbecue hot dogs and burgers - barbeque in Texas or other Southern/Western states cultures may be slowly roasted meats with a special sauce....get my drift??

Naples, Florida
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10. Re: For Britons: What does "traditional Christmas dinner" mean?

We had the same "drift" Poppa -- that's why I used the term "barbecue" instead of "grilling". I also said "especially" franks and burgers, not "only" franks and burgers. Was not excluding chicken, ribs, brisket, pulled pork,steaks,fixings etc. My name is CrankyCOOK, after all :)

Just as our friends in the UK were so kind and informative to describe of their traditional "holiday" meals, I simply thought it would be nice to let them know about another American holiday tradition.

Shall I tell them about Challah and honey for Rosh Hashanah?