Traditional Christmas Day Meals
Unlike Christmas Eve, the meal on Christmas Day in Germany is usually a feast. Historically, the 40 days before Christmas were a time fasting. This fast ended on Christmas Day, at which time all food and eating restrictions were removed. This naturally created a day of feasting, and this tradition continues today.
Traditional Christmas Day Meal #1: Christmas Goose
The Christmas Goose is perhaps the most loved meal on Christmas Day. There are two theories behind the origin of this tradition.
The most credible of these credits the tradition to an old custom of the Catholic Church. On St. Martins Day (November 11th), a day to honor St. Martin von Tours, it was custom to prepare and eat a "Martins-goose." Shortly after St. Martins Day began the Advent fasting period. The fasting period ended on Christmas Eve, December 24th, when another goose was prepared to celebrate.
Another legend exists that credits the tradition to the British. The legend states that on Christmas Day 1588, Queen Elisabeth I was eating goose for dinner when she was told about the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Out of joy and what she considered a good omen, she declared that goose would be served for every Christmas. This tradition is supposed to have spread throughout Europe.
The goose is traditionally roasted and often filled with apples, dates, chestnuts, onions, and/or prunes. It is also common to stuff the goose with a meat or dough filling. Common herbs and spices used are salt, pepper, marjoram, and mugwort. It is commonly served with red cabbage, dumplings, and a gravy.
Stuffed Christmas Goose (Gefüllte Weihnachtsgans)
Traditional Christmas Day Meal #2: Christmas Duck
Similar to the goose, the duck is traditionally roasted and often filled with fruits, such as apples, oranges, and/or prunes. Common herbs and spices used are salt, pepper, marjoram, and mugwort. It is commonly served with red cabbage, dumplings or boiled potatoes, and a gravy.
Roasted Duck (Gebratene Ente)
Traditional Christmas Day Meal #3: Pork Roast
The pork roast is a favorite dish on Christmas day, especially in Bavaria (Bayern). The roast is made from a large (2 to 3 lb) cut of pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and sometimes garlic. It is then roasted whole in a roasting pan in the oven. It may also be roasted with vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and onions. The drippings from the roast are made into a gravy, which is served with the meat. Pork roast is traditionally served with red cabbage or green cabbage, as well as with dumplings (potato dumplings or bread dumplings) or boiled potatoes.
When selecting a pork roast, two cuts of pork work best. A Shoulder Roast is one of the most flavorful cuts of pork. It has a higher level of fat than other cuts, which improves its flavor and tenderness. Shoulder cuts that you might see in the market include pork butt, Boston Roast, Picnic Roast, or simply port shoulder. A Loin Roast is the leanest cut. Because of this, these roasts must not be overcooked as they can dry out very easily. The loin is considered the best cut so it will be more expensive. Look for tenderloin, center loin roast, top loin roast, or simply pork loin in your local markets.
Another thing to watch for when selecting a piece of meat is that the roast should not be sitting in its own juices. If a piece of meat loses its juices already before it is cooked, this shows that the meat cannot hold its juices during cooking, resulting in a very dry roast. Instead, choose a piece of meat that looks moist and does not lose any juice.
Bavarian Pork Roast (Bayerischer Schweinebraten)
Traditional Christmas Day Meal #4: Pork Roast with Crispy Rind (Krustenbraten)
A Pork Roast with Crispy Rind (Krustenbraten) is one in which the rind remains on the meat and becomes very crispy during baking. Not only is it a popular dish in Germany for a festive Christmas meal (especially in Bavaria), it makes a mouth-watering display. Your family and guests will sure to be impressed. It is commonly served with red cabbage, dumplings or boiled potatoes, and a gravy.
Pork Roast with Crispy Rind (Krustenbraten)