Christmas traditions

Did you know… that there are at least 6 different languages spoken by the team at Goodbody & Co., meaning 6 very different cultural traditions at Christmas! So while we are opening our stockings or tucking into a roast turkey, this is what is happening in Latvia, Poland, France, Argentina, and Lithuania.

In France, the night of the 24th is the focus of festivities. Families dress up and spend hours sitting around the dining table, which must look elegant and inviting. They start with salmon or oysters (or both) and foie gras, before the roast is served: goose, capon or turkey stuffed with chestnuts. The feast ends with a “buche de Noel”, a sponge cake decorated like a Yule log and iced with chocolate and chestnut buttercream. Champagne and wine is drunk throughout the evening. Attending Midnight Mass is important, although young families often attend an earlier service instead. At bed time the children (and adults) will leave their shoes under the Christmas tree in the hope that Father Christmas might fill them with presents.

The 24th is celebrated in Latvia with close family who share 9 special dishes, each with a particular meaning. A dish of peas and beans is served to help you cry less; bacon pies, to bring you new surprises; beetroots and carrots, to keep you healthy; gingerbreads, to remind that you are loved; round shaped cookies, to bring the sunshine; stewed cabbage to give you strength; poultry, to achieve good progress; fish to fill your wallet with money and pork for happiness. Houses are beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and advent wreaths.

In Poland on the other hand, a minimum of 12 dishes are prepared and eaten on Christmas Eve, one for each of the apostles. Traditionally there is no meat or alcohol served that night but special fruit juices, lots of fish, dumplings, pasta and cake. Later in the evening a ‘real’ Santa Claus will knock on your door to distribute the presents before everyone troops off to Midnight Mass. Lithuania has very similar traditions.

However in Argentina, on the other side of the world, temperatures often reach 35 degrees so food is either served cold or barbequed. Traditional dishes include vitel toné (veal with tuna-flavoured mayonnaise …), melon and ham, turrón (nougat), flan and panettone. The celebrations begin on the 24th with dinner, dancing and fireworks and carry on through until lunch on the 25th. Houses are decorated with Christmas trees and festive table decorations. Interestingly, Argentinians don’t tend to wrap their own presents (most shops have a gift wrapping service), saving a lot of headaches!