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Christmas traditions around the world
From fried chicken in Japan and pickles in the US all the way to stargazing in Poland: the holiday season brings with it many traditions from around the world waiting to be discovered and introduced – whether as an amusing conversation starter for Christmas dinner or as inspiration to liven up your own familiar customs. After all, wasn’t it Henry James who said, a tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it? A mantra MEISSEN wholeheartedly lives by and one that brings together the manufactory’s modern opulence and continued reflection of more than 300 years of artisanal tradition.
Traditional Christmas dishes vary as greatly from one family to the next as they do from one country to the next. From opulently set tables with festive porcelain all the way to a modest supper, what matters most on Christmas Eve is togetherness. In Japan, for example, Christmas is associated with one dish above all others: fried chicken, or Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii‘. The tradition of serving fried chicken on Christmas dates back to a holiday ad campaign from 1974, resulting in some fast-food restaurants reaching their highest annual turnover on Christmas Eve.
"Christmas is a time of reflection, looking back but also looking forward – a time of happiness and hope."
Christmas ornaments in the shape of pickles can be found in many countries around the world, including the US. According to tradition, the person who finds the pickle ornament receives an extra present or good fortune in the coming year. The tradition of Christmas custard in Slovakia and parts of Ukraine is similarly auspicious. The flavour and consistency of the popular Christmas dessert differs from family to family. What they all have in common, however, is the belief that the custard offers them a glimpse into the future. The oldest family member flings a spoonful of the loksa custard onto the ceiling – the more custard that sticks, the more luck the family will enjoy in the coming year.
In Poland, Christmas is traditionally celebrated with one’s immediate family and is characterised by a wealth of religious symbols and rituals – starting with a bundle of hay that is placed under the tablecloth to symbolise Jesus in the manger all the way to the tradition of preparing twelve dishes in honour of the Twelve Apostles, or the ritual of setting an additional place at the table for unexpected guests or someone in need. The family only sits down at the table when the first star appears in the sky, keeping the tradition of the story of Christmas alive year after year.