It seems to be that time of year again when everyone is buying gifts, confectionaries, and enough snacks to survive several winters instead of just one. Obviously, all of these signs point to one thing – it’s Christmas! Designated as the ‘host’ this holiday season? Or are catering for your household? You may be wanting some more information as to when you should actually serve Christmas dinner.
Table of Contents
- What Is Christmas Dinner?
- What Time To Eat Christmas Dinner?
- Is The Traditional Christmas Dinner Time Worth It?
- FAQs On Christmas Dinner Time
What Is Christmas Dinner?
Christmas dinner is a very large affair for almost all countries that celebrate this holiday. The courses, meals, and actual foods served may differ from place to place (some cultures may not serve meat). But Christmas dinner is held almost globally on the 25th of December every year.
There is a very large traditional side to the dinner that is celebrated and followed very strictly by more traditional/religious people. Yet despite your religious opinions or perspectives, the main part of the dinner is followed in most households.
In the US and the UK, the traditional Christmas dinner will include a very large main course. This usually consists of turkey or a similar piece of poultry. Alongside this, there is sometimes a starter course that will be either a prawn cocktail or a soup. As for afters, there is a fittingly traditional dessert that is known as ‘Christmas pudding’. Adults can also partake in mulled or Christmas wine.
The Main Course
As mentioned, the main attraction of a Christmas dinner is the meaty main course that everyone loves. This is typically poultry, like turkey. But it can be swapped out for a gammon joint, baked ham, or a beef wellington. It can be very comparable to a Sunday dinner but slightly fancier and more extravagant.
After a brilliant Christmas morning of opening presents, whoever has the role of cooking will probably want to get started on preparing this dish. Unless they did all the preparation on Christmas Eve.
For a lot of home cooks on Christmas, your routine is typically to wake up, open presents, start cooking, and have some time to relax in the downtime you get while the meal is cooking. A late breakfast is always helpful to keep you energized for the day. But it does not have to be Christmas-themed.
Other than the meat, the main course may also have roasted potatoes, stuffing, a stew or soup, and a hearty salad. It can seem to be a lot to cook. But as long as you have planned and prepared for this – you should be completely fine!
The Starter And Dessert
While it may seem weird to couple these two courses up in the same category, I’ve done it because they are very optional for a lot of families. The starter, as mentioned, is never anything incredible or mind-blowing. Something as simple as a soup or a prawn cocktail. However, a lot of families will struggle to eat the main course on its own so having a starter seems like a waste of food – which is very understandable.
The dessert, on the other hand, is a slightly different story. Depending on where you go, the dessert will be different. Some households like to have cheeseboards as a dessert, ice cream, or trifle. However, the most traditional dessert is a Christmas pudding.
A Christmas pudding is a huge dessert made from a lot of dried fruit, flour, eggs, and spices. It is also sometimes soaked with an alcoholic beverage such as rum (like a rum cake but more spiced and more dried fruit) or fortified wine. It is very filling so a lot of families will wait until a lot later in the day before they dig into the pudding.
What Time To Eat Christmas Dinner?
Now that you are all up to date and know what a Christmas dinner is, you may now be wondering what time it is typically served.
Well, that comes with quite a contradictory answer as not everyone agrees on a set time to eat.
In Britain, there are a lot of different times on Christmas day that would create the perfect opportunity to have a Christmas dinner. A lot of people base it off of the Queen’s, now King’s, speech. After the monarch has concluded their speech to the nation, a lot of people would sit down to eat. Preparing and cooking the food before and during the speech, timing it just right to be served once the speech ends.
Other than using a nationwide speech from the monarchy, the other ways to decide when to have your Christmas dinner can include when the pub or bar is shut. This is more for the people who enjoy going out on Christmas. Maybe you want to see your friends or family at a bar to have a celebratory drink. Once the pub shuts, typically at 3 pm, you can go home and have your dinner. That is, provided you cooked it before you left.
Arguably the best way to decide when to have your Christmas dinner is to gauge when you will realistically be hungry. In my home, we gift each other a lot of confectionaries in our stockings and as actual presents. This means we all end up snacking on them for a while in the morning. And this can cause an early Christmas dinner to be bloating and a chore.
If you are insisting on having your dinner early, it may be best to refrain from eating anything too filling in the morning. Anywhere between 4-6 pm on Christmas day is an ideal time to sit down and eat your early dinner!
What Time To Start Cooking Christmas Dinner?
The time you should start cooking will always depend on the time you want to serve your food. Also, on what the food actually is.
Cooking a small chicken for your meal instead of a large turkey? Then obviously you will not need to start cooking as early.
Want to eat Christmas dinner not long after opening presents and spending time with the family? You are going to have to start cooking it quite early. A lot of people will need to start preparing and cooking their food at 11 am. This is if they want to have it perfectly sorted by 3 pm. Not only is this including the cooking time, but also the time it will take to prepare all of the ingredients. Also, you need time to allow for some of the foods to rest after cooking. And then there’s also setting the table and partially cleaning up as you go.
It is a lengthy process and I am sure we are all thankful it is only once a year. Maybe not so much the presents, they can happen more often.
Is The Traditional Christmas Dinner Time Worth It?
Deciding if cooking your entire Christmas dinner at the traditional time is worth it, it is best to look at your standard meal times. These will gauge what your appetite will be during the day. It can also be handy for knowing when you will be feeling up to eating such a hearty meal.
The cooking process is going to take some time. So you do not want to be rushed in the morning. There is also no point in cooking this massive festive dinner if you are going to be too full after one bite to eat any more of it.
Cook the food at a time that is both convenient for you. It should also take advantage of your being naturally hungry so that you can eat it all.
FAQs On Christmas Dinner Time
What is the normal time to have Christmas dinner?
A lot of people in Britain will choose 3 pm as the best time to start their Christmas dinner and will commonly have it plated up just beforehand. This is so that the general public can watch the Queen’s speech on the television at 3 pm and then eat shortly after it is finished. The Christmas of 2022 will instead have a King’s speech due to the unfortunate passing of the Queen.
Is Christmas Eve dinner a thing?
Christmas Eve dinner can be a thing. There are some countries and cultures that indulge in it, yet places such as Britain typically only go all out for a meal on Christmas day itself. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are more for little meals and snacking on festive treats.
When did the traditional Christmas dinner start?
The traditional Christmas dinner started just after 3 pm. This is because Britain as a country has always been very well-known for its adoration of the monarchy. While it is not as typical nowadays, the country would always sit down to watch the monarch speak at 3 pm and would then eat just after this had concluded.
What time do the royals eat Christmas dinner?
The royals eat dinner at around 3 pm on Christmas day, just after the message from the monarch has been broadcasted. This is possible as the message from the Queen/King is recorded a few days before Christmas. Once the video is broadcast, the royal family begins to eat.