People in Asia eat dogs, bats and rats for Christmas

Dogs, bats, Kentucky Fried Chicken and barramundi will grace dinner tables across the Asia Pacific this Christmas, a festival celebrated with lots of cheer, and very little turkey, in this mainly non-Christian region.

Christmas Day is seen as a foreign, Western festival in many countries in Asia but that doesn't stop millions of people from cooking up banquets of local food unheard of in the West.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country which also has a substantial Christian community, Christmas feasts include delicacies such as pork soaked in blood and dog meat.

"We usually hold a family gathering at our parents' house or in-laws' house after Christmas eve mass," said Ermida Simanjuntak, a Batak Christian Indonesian. "We do not exchange gifts, we use this event more to meet and talk."

In the eastern island of Sulawesi, some Manado Christians swear by kawok, or garden rats, cooked with chillies and garlic, and paniki, or bats, cooked in coconut milk.

In Japan, many people head to Kentucky on Christmas - Kentucky Fried Chicken, that is.

The fast food joints do a roaring trade over the Christmas period, with restaurants turning away customers on December 24 if they haven't booked their chicken in advance.

The Kentucky Christmas habit started in 1974, after a foreign customer mentioned to a store manager that he had come to buy fried chicken because he was unable to find turkey in Japan. His words inspired a sales campaign that paid off.

Chinese sweet ham is a popular centrepiece for Christmas Eve dinner in the Philippines, where the affluent serve up roast pig or turkey. Filipinos pride themselves on celebrating the longest Christmas in the world, with decorations going up in September.

Although Christmas is a normal working day in officially atheist Communist China, big hotels in Beijing and Shanghai offer glitzy Christmas lunches and dinners.

Many smaller restaurants also get into the spirit with staff wearing Santa hats and windows decorated with tinsel, unthinkable in Chairman Mao Zedong's time.

Down Under, where Christmas falls in high summer, an Australian Christmas lunch is more likely to be seafood and salad than roast turkey and pudding.

Popular Christmas fare includes prawns or lobster, followed by barbecued barramundi or snapper, alongside cold meats.

In Japan, many families opt for a plain sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. As delicious as it sounds, the term "Christmas cake" was long used to refer to unmarried women over the age of 25, who were said to be past their best, like cakes after December 25.

Source: Reuters

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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Author`s name Alex Naumov