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Joulupöytä (translated "Yule table") is the traditional assortment of foods served at Christmas in Finland, similar to the Swedish julbord. It contains many different dishes, most of them typical for the season. The main dish is usually a large Christmas ham, which is eaten with mustard or bread along with the other dishes. Fish is also served (often lutefisk and gravlax), and the ham is served with laatikkos, casseroles made with swede, potato and carrot, occasionally liver. The traditional Christmas beverage is either alcoholic or non-alcoholic mulled wine (glögi in Finnish).
Yule or Yuletide is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.
Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.
The traditional dishes of joulupöytä include:
A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a traditional dish associated with modern Christmas and historical Yule. The tradition is believed to have begun among the Germanic peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god in Germanic paganism associated with boars, harvest and fertility.
Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant.
Gravlax or gravlaks is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill. Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås, a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread or with boiled potatoes.
Beverages most often served are:
Schnapps or schnaps is a type of alcoholic beverage that may take several forms, including distilled fruit brandies, herbal liqueurs, infusions, and "flavored liqueurs" made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.
Koskenkorva Viina is the most common clear spirit drink (38%) in Finland, produced by Altia in the Koskenkorva distillery in Ilmajoki and bottled in Rajamäki.
Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavouring agents such as gruit, herbs, or fruits may be included or used instead of hops. In commercial brewing, the natural carbonation effect is often removed during processing and replaced with forced carbonation.
The usual desserts are:
A joulutorttu is a Finnish Christmas pastry. It is traditionally made from puff pastry in the shape of a star or pinwheel and filled with prune jam and often dusted with icing sugar. The pastries can be in other shapes and apple used in place of the prune jam.
Gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar or molasses. Gingerbread foods vary, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger snap.
Kissel or kisel is a viscous fruit dish, popular as a dessert and as a drink. It consists of the sweetened juice of berries, like mors, but it is thickened with cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot; sometimes red wine or fresh or dried fruits are added. It is similar to the Danish rødgrød and German Rote Grütze. Swedish blåbärssoppa is a similarly prepared bilberry dessert.
Usually the rice porridge is served from a large, common kettle and an almond has been hidden in it. The one who gets the almond gets his or her Christmas presents first or gets a wish. Sometimes rice porridge is served as breakfast.
The almond is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries as well as Central Asia, but widely cultivated elsewhere. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.
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Finnish cuisine is notable for generally combining traditional country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental style cooking. Fish and meat play a prominent role in traditional Finnish dishes in some parts of the country, while the dishes elsewhere have traditionally included various vegetables and mushrooms. Evacuees from Karelia contributed to foods in other parts of Finland.
Polish cuisine is a style of cooking and food preparation originating in or widely popular in Poland. Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic due to Poland's history and it shares many similarities with other West Slavic countries like neighbouring Czech and Slovak. It has also been widely influenced by other Central European cuisines, namely German, Austrian and Hungarian as well as Jewish, French, Italian, and Turkish culinary traditions. Polish-styled cooking in other cultures is often referred to as à la polonaise.
Danish cuisine originated from the peasant population's own local produce and was enhanced by cooking techniques developed in the late 19th century and the wider availability of goods during and after the Industrial Revolution. Open sandwiches, known as smørrebrød, which in their basic form are the usual fare for lunch, can be considered a national speciality when prepared and decorated with a variety of fine ingredients. Hot meals are typically prepared with meat or fish. Substantial meat and fish dishes includes flæskesteg and kogt torsk with mustard sauce and trimmings. Ground meats became widespread during the industrial revolution and traditional dishes that are still popular includes frikadeller, karbonader and medisterpølse. Denmark is known for its Carlsberg and Tuborg beers and for its akvavit and bitters, but amongst the Danes themselves imported wine has gained steadily in popularity since the 1960s.
Glögi or glogg is a spiced, usually alcoholic drink, served warm. The original form of glögi, a spiced liquor, was consumed by messengers and postmen who travelled on horseback or skis in cold weather in Scandinavia.
Russian cuisine is a collection of the different cooking traditions of the Russian people. The cuisine is diverse, with Northern and Eastern European, Caucasian, Central Asian, Siberian, and East Asian influences. Russian cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multi-ethnic expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, pork, poultry, caviar, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, pies, cereals, beer and vodka. Soups and stews are centered on seasonal or storable produce, fish and meats. Such food remained the staple for the vast majority of Russians well into the 20th century. Soviet cuisine had a separate character of its own.
Rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with water or milk and other ingredients such as cinnamon and raisins. Variants are used for either desserts or dinners. When used as a dessert, it is commonly combined with a sweetener such as sugar. Such desserts are found on many continents, especially Asia where rice is a staple. Some variants are thickened only with the rice starch; others include eggs, making them a kind of custard.
Dutch cuisine is formed from the cooking traditions and practices of the Netherlands. The country's cuisine is shaped by its location in the fertile North Sea river delta of the European Plain, giving rise to fishing, farming, and trading over sea, its former colonial empire and the spice trade.
Ukrainian cuisine is the collection of the various cooking traditions of the Ukrainian people accumulated over many years. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the rich dark soil (chornozem) from which its ingredients come and often involves many components.
Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been mainly influenced by a series of European cuisines such as the Austrian cuisine, German cuisine, Greek cuisine, or Hungarian cuisine, yet it also includes culinary elements stemming from the cuisines of the Slavic-speaking countries of Eastern and Central Europe, most notably Serbian and Bulgarian as well as Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian.
Norwegian cuisine in its traditional form is based largely on the raw materials readily available in Norway and its mountains, wilderness, and coast. It differs in many respects from its continental counterparts with a stronger focus on game and fish. Many of the traditional dishes are results of using conserved materials, with respect to the long winters.
Burmese cuisine is mainly an amalgam of cuisines from various regions of Myanmar. It has also been influenced by various cuisines of neighbouring countries, in particular, China, India and Thailand.
Czech cuisine has both influenced and been influenced by the cuisines of surrounding countries and nations. Many of the cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe originated within the Czech lands. Contemporary Czech cuisine is more meat-based than in previous periods; the current abundance of farmable meat has enriched its presence in regional cuisine. Traditionally, meat has been reserved for once-weekly consumption, typically on weekends. The body of Czech meals typically consists of two or more courses; the first course is traditionally soup, the second course is the main dish, and the third course can include supplementary courses, such as dessert or compote. In the Czech cuisine, thick soups and many kinds of sauces, both based on stewed or cooked vegetables and meats, often with cream, as well as baked meats with natural sauces (gravies), are popular dishes.
Assyrian cuisine is the cuisine of the indigenous ethnic Assyrian people, Eastern Aramaic speaking Syriac Christians of Iraq, northeastern Syria, north western Iran and south eastern Turkey. Assyrian cuisine primarily identical to Iraqi/Mesopotamian cuisine, as well as being very similar to other Middle Eastern and Caucasian cuisines, as well as Greek cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Israeli cuisine, and Armenian cuisine, with most dishes being similar to the cuisines of the area in which those Assyrians live/originate from. It is rich in vegetables and grains, such as barley, meat, tomato, herbs, spices, cheese, potato as well as herbs, fermented dairy products, and pickles. Alcohol, in particular wheat beer, organic wine, and arak is also consumed.
Christmas dinner is a meal traditionally eaten at Christmas. This meal can take place any time from the evening of Christmas Eve to the evening of Christmas Day itself. The meals are often particularly rich and substantial, in the tradition of the Christian feast day celebration, and form a significant part of gatherings held to celebrate the arrival of Christmastide. In many cases, there is a ritual element to the meal related to the religious celebration, such as the praying of grace.
Jul, the Danish Yule and Christmas, is celebrated throughout December starting either at the beginning of Advent or on December 1 with a variety of traditions. Christmas Eve, Juleaften, the main event of Jul, is celebrated on the evening of December 24, the evening before the two Christmas holidays, December 25 and 26th. Celebrating on the eve before the holiday is also used for most other holidays in Denmark.
Christmas is celebrated throughout December and traditionally until St. Knut's Day on January 13. The main celebration and the exchange of gifts in many families takes place on Christmas Eve, December 24. The Lucia Day is celebrated during Advent, on December 13.