This one is less about a specific food and more about a tradition.
And it’s short.
Seriously, I only have four sources for this one.
In many places, Christmas Day dinner is most important. Christmas Eve is exciting, but much less about food. I know that personal my family just has soup, bread, and cheese (and when we’re lucky, fried oysters) for Christmas Eve dinner. In Germany, Christmas Eve isn’t just Christmas Eve. It’s dickbauch.
Dickbauch means, “fat stomach” in German. The name was given to the Christmas Eve feast because those who do not eat well that evening will be haunted by demons in the night. Nobody likes a night terror.
Seriously, those things suck.
Dickbauch is preceded by other Christmas Eve celebrations, most notably the presentation of the Christmas tree. Children aren’t allowed to see it until it’s all set up. One parent, usually the father, will distract the child while the other parent, usually the mother, decorates the tree with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, cars, trains, angels, tinsel, family heirlooms, and candles or lights. The parent sets up a display of plates of fruit, nuts, marzipan, chocolate, and biscuits around the tree. The tree is revealed to the children and they all nosh on treats while opening gifts.
That is followed by the dickbauch feast. It’s no big deal. Just a meal of suckling big, reisbrei (sweet rice porridge), bratwurst (white sausage), macaroni salad, red cabbage, carp, noodles, and other regional dishes. It’s followed by dessert, which includes stollen (moist, heavy bread filled with fruit), lebkuchen (gingerbread), marzipan, cinnamon stars, and springerle cookies. Oh, there’s also lots of wine and beer. Lots of wine and beer.
People fill themselves up to the bursting point, go to bed, and presumably sleep well without being visited by demons in the night.
So despite the fact that on Christmas day, Germans partake in a feast that may include roast goose, boiled potatoes, more red cabbage and carp, dumplings, christstollen (long loaves of bread with nuts, raisins, citron, and dried fruit), more lebkuchen and regular stollen, and christbaumgeback cookies (white dough that can be pressed into shapes and baked as tree decorations), German families will eat themselves silly on Christmas eve as well.
Keep eating and asking, my friends.
-“Christmas Around The World: Part I.” Penumbra. Novareinna.com. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://www.novareinna.com/festive/worldI.html>.
-Weber, Mark F. “Dickbauch (Fat Stomach).” My German Travels. Mark F. Weber, 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://mygermantravels.com/2010/12/german-holidays-dickbauch-fat-stomach/>.
-“Holiday Traditions – Germany.” California Mall – Stockton California – Shopping and Fun – Stockton, California. MAYACO / Estockton. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <http://www.californiamall.com/holidaytraditions/traditions-germany.htm>.
-Bowler, G. Q. The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2000. 91. Print.Photos, in order of appearance: