Your Ultimate Guide to British Christmas Foods and Their Unusual Names

christmas food mince pie

Craving a traditional British Christmas feast but confused by the strange names of the dishes? We’re here to help!

Dive into this guide to learn about tasty and odd-sounding British Christmas foods that are bound to fill you with Christmas cheer.

Figgy pudding

Have you ever sung the Christmas carol ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’? If so, you have probably asked for figgy pudding without knowing it because it’s part of the song! Back in the chilly nights of 16th and 17th-century England, carollers were fuelled by this treat. They would stand on the doorsteps of the rich and sing this song, in the hopes of being offered this Christmas dessert – hence the lyrics: “Now bring us some figgy pudding”.

But what actually is figgy pudding?

Figgy pudding (also known as Christmas pudding) sounds more like a character from a Charles Dickens novel than actual food. But this Christmas dessert is actually a fruity, steamed cake with a dome-shaped appearance. Although figs aren’t in the modern recipe, they gave this pudding its catchy name.

Pigs in blankets

I know what you’re thinking, but these aren’t actually pigs wrapped in blankets! In fact, they are mini sausages wrapped in bacon. This affectionately named side dish has become a Christmas dinner tradition.

Although it’s not clear when or why they became an essential part of a traditional British Christmas dinner, the recipe has been in a variety of cookbooks since the 1950s. However, famous British chef, Delia Smith, made them a hit in the 1990s, and now you can find them pre-made in most supermarkets.


Stuffing is a delightful combination of breadcrumbs, sausage meat, onions, herbs and sometimes even fruit and nuts. All these ingredients are combined with an egg to hold it together and then it’s “stuffed” into a turkey or goose.

The custom of using stuffing dates back centuries, traditionally helping to keep the meat moist and juicy while cooking. Plus, it tastes delicious!

Mince pies

Mince pies are sweet, round pastries filled with spiced fruit. Although the name may seem misleading, back in Tudor times, these pies contained actual mincemeat.

During the Middle Ages, it was quite common to mix meats with fruits and spices to preserve them. But by the late Victorian era, the pies had evolved into the sweet treat we know and love today.

Buck’s Fizz

We couldn’t talk about traditional British Christmas food and not include Buck’s Fizz!

This simple cocktail is a refreshing blend of champagne and orange juice and is often enjoyed on Christmas morning to celebrate the holiday. The unusual name is inspired by London’s Buck’s Club, the bar that invented the cocktail back in 1921.

Bubble and squeak

This dish is a British gem that makes the day after Christmas almost as exciting as the big day itself. Consisting of potatoes, cabbage, turkey, vegetables and anything else you fancy, this is the perfect way to use up any traditional Christmas dinner leftovers.

Although the name may sound strange, it actually mimics the sound this dish makes while it’s cooking. And if you think the name “bubble and squeak” is unusual, in Scotland, they have their own version of the dish called “rumbledethumps”. Yes, you read that right – this strange name is also inspired by the noise it makes while cooking.

Hungry for more language discoveries?

Now you know all about traditional British Christmas foods and their funny names, you can enjoy your Christmas feast and share these fun facts with your friends and family.

If you’re curious to learn more about other English words and where they came from, dive into our English language courses and have as much fun learning English as you would feasting on these festive foods!

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