The origins of Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner is one of the biggest and most special meals of the year. It is a chance to enjoy a wonderful feast with family and loved ones, but it hasn’t always been turkey and roast potatoes that families were tucking in to. The Christmas dinner as we know and love it today has evolved over hundreds of years, changing veggies and meats over time. So what at the origins of the traditional Christmas roast?

A good old roast has always been the centrepiece of a celebratory meal – from the sacrificial days of old to the present day Christmas.

A delicious Copas Christmas turkey

A delicious Copas Christmas turkey

Traditionally most people would serve up beef, goose or rabbit on the 25th December, but when Queen Victoria started eating turkey it created a popular a trend amongst the middle classes. As turkey became cheaper it spread in popularity through the working class, continuing the Royal trend into the 20th century. These days over 90% of families choose to serve up the big bird for Christmas dinner, making it by far the most popular festive meat.

Roast Potatoes
The classic roast spud is a staple at any modern roast dinner, especially at Christmas. But did you know that the humble potato originated in the Andes, in South America, and was brought to the UK via Spain by returning sailors from Peru? An abundant food for the poor, the potato quickly became very popular in the UK. Roast potatoes
It was Queen Victoria who introduced the potato to the Christmas menu, although at the time they were eaten mashed rather than roasted. These days everyone has their own recipe for the perfect roasties, and everyone swears theirs is better. What’s your family’s secret to perfect roast tatties?

Brussels Sprouts
The most controversial aspect of any Christmas dinner is usually the sprouts. But whether you love or hate them, they seem to be a well-rooted Christmas tradition; over 750 million are eaten in December alone. They also appear to be one of the oldest Christmas traditions, arriving via France from Belgium over 400 years ago.
Their place at the Christmas dinner table is likely due to their ability to grow over the winter months, rather than their…acquired taste. However, now that we have a few more than the old “boil until edible” recipe for cooking sprouts, these little green balls of nutrition are seeing a new lease of deliciousness.

Mince Pies
While sprouts may be the most obviously controversial part of a Christmas feast, it is the mince pie that has horrified children, caused upset at the highest levels of government and is actually still illegal to eat on Christmas day. Mince pies
I’m sure when most of us were younger we heard of ‘mince pies’ and were disgusted at the thought of mince meat, fruit and pastry together. Yet that is exactly how the mince pie started its life.
A recipe brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders, the mince pie was originally made with meats, fruits and spices. In the 17th century puritan Oliver Cromwell decided that the Christmas pie was too excessive and decadent, and banned eating it on Christmas day – a law that has never been abolished!

In 1848, a British confectioner, Tom Smith, pioneered a new way to sell sweets. Inspired by the Parisian tradition of wrapping bon bons in twists of paper, Smith began wrapping his confectionery in a similar way.
After adding a little ‘pop!’ to his invention, these wraps of sweets soon became the Christmas cracker. It was the late Victorian period before the sweets were replaced by a paper hat and small gift, and the modern Christmas cracker was born.



Whatever your favourite part, we have all the traditional trimmings along with a fine Copas family turkey in our Christmas box. Take a full look at what you can expect for Christmas dinner this year and order your box today.

6 thoughts on “The origins of Christmas dinner


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  4. Pingback: クリスマスの代表的な食べ物・お菓子とは-七面鳥やクリスマスプディングの歴史も │ +雑学

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