TURKEY is synonymous with Christmas but in many parts of the world there are some unconventional Christmas food traditions.

Czech Republic carp

Who needs turkey when you have the versatile carp? In Czech Republic, fish is the main course for Christmas dinner. A fish soup starts off the dinner, followed by carp fried in breadcrumbs with a traditional side of breadcrumbs.

What is fascinating is the preparations made for the dinner. While most people buy the carp off fishmongers or book them early and pick them up frozen at a supermarket, some families bring back a live carp that takes up residence in the house bathtub until Christmas Eve to ensure freshness for the Christmas meal.

KFC for Christmas

In Japan, KFC has become the equivalent of turkey and stuffing. Thanks to a marketing strategy launched in December 1974 that cemented the idea of KFC for Christmas in the minds of the Japanese public, buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken are ordered in advance in anticipation of Christmas. Banish the idea of KFC as a greasy chicken dinner with questionable crusts because in Japan, the Christmas chicken dinner set comes with cake and a bottle of champagne.

Japanese sponge cake

When we hear the words traditional Christmas cake, there are two options. One is the rich, fruit-and-nut-filled concoction, and the other is the icing-smeared Christmas log. In Japan, Christmas cake means a whipped-cream filled sponge cake, sort of like a classic Victoria sandwich but with the strawberries on the top of the cake rather than inside.

Greenland Christmas food

If you think having KFC for Christmas is unusual, wait till you hear what they serve in Greenland. This Nordic country looks very much like where Santa Claus may originate from, but don’t expect a traditional feast to welcome the coming of Christmas. After Christmas mass, families congregate to have coffee and cake, and whale skin with blubber and auk meat. Called mattak and kiviak respectively, the former is apparently eaten raw. To make kiviak, auks (small flightless birds) are placed inside a sealskin and sewn up. Once it has fermented for a few months, it’s dug up and eaten as a delicacy. Sounds delicious!

Catalonian pooping log

So far the Christmas food traditions have been quaint or slightly odd. But in Catalonia, northeastern Spain, there is the tradition of the poop log or Caga tio. Although not actually gross, the idea of it sounds a bit alarming. Beginning Dec 8, in conjunction with the Feast of Immaculate Conception, a hollow log with a painted-on smiley face is fed with nuts, dried fruit, snacks and wine or water every night until Christmas Eve. On that night, the log is beaten by children with sticks until it ‘poops out’ all the little sweets and snacks it had been stuffed with.