hot chocolate

Beyond Turkey: Winter Holiday Foods Around the World

It’s December, and here in Canada there are reindeer and Santa Clauses and ads urging you to order your holiday turkey everywhere. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it can be hard not to feel just a little left out.

But part of really Living Halal is living inclusively, and the winter holiday season is full of tasty food traditions that aren’t Christmas-related, as well as Christmas Day traditions for people who don’t celebrate Christmas itself. We thought we’d share a few of our favourites, because no matter what you celebrate during December, there’s always room to pick up a few new food traditions for your winter table!

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Toshikoshi Soba: In Japan, the New Year is ushered in with noodles! Eat this traditional buckwheat noodle dish on December 31st to bring you good luck for the year to come. And when eating traditional Japanese noodle dishes like this, slurping is actively encouraged. In fact, slurping indicates how much you’re enjoying the meal, so it’s actually considered rude not to slurp!

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Melomakarona: Christmas is a big deal in Greece; it’s very similar to how we treat Eid. Many Eastern Orthodox Greeks fast before Christmas (sound familiar?) and when Christmas arrives, people break their fast with these sweet melomakarona cookies.

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Spicy Hot Chocolate (minus marshmallows): While there are many different delicious types of chocolate out there, Central and South America are home to the real chocolate experts, since that’s where the cacao plant comes from. Chocolate is the Christmas beverage of choice in Peru, but only if it has a healthy dose of spice. Since most Muslim culinary traditions are a lot spicier than European and North American ones, we’re hoping to see spicy hot chocolate on coffee shop menus soon! Just remember to leave out the marshmallows unless you can score some Halal ones!

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Fondue Chinoise: Glorious and delicious fondue, oh how I love you. Fondue chinoise isn’t the classic fondue you’re thinking! Fondue chinoise is a holiday favourite in Switzerland, featuring thinly sliced beef that’s cooked in a seasoned broth on the end of a fondue fork, then dipped into a mayo-based sauce such as cocktail, curry and tartar. PSA: This dish is best enjoyed with groups of friends and family – the Swiss way!

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December 25th Takeout: This is a tradition pretty much all non-Christmas celebrants: the grocery stores are all closed December 25th, so unless you’ve stocked up in advance, you’re at the mercy of whatever limited takeout and delivery options are open that day. Instead of fighting this challenge, many families have turned it in to their own yearly tradition. Non-Christian New Yorkers started the trend of December 25th Chinese takeout that has now spread across pretty much all of North America. And in Japan, while most of the population doesn’t celebrate Christmas, eating KFC on December the 25th is such a firmly rooted tradition that people have to order their special Christmas meals weeks in advance.


What winter food traditions do you love to share with your family? Tell us over on the Zabiha Halal Facebook Page!



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