Food is central to festivities - and life, really - around the Arab world, where specific traditional dishes have become an integral part of religious holiday celebrations. 

People in the region mark Eid El Adha with mighty meat dishes and Easter with the beloved maamoul (traditional cookies stuffed with either pistachios, walnuts, or dates.)

Things aren't different during Christmas as Arabs who celebrate the holiday come together to make decades-old recipes created for or popularly consumed during the occasion.   

From Palestine to Lebanon and Egypt, here's a glimpse into what people in the region serve as part of their Christmas Day feasts: 


Mansaf Source: Step into Jordan

Lunch on Christmas Day in Jordan is something else. The feast is usually packed with popular local delicacies like mansaf (a rice and meat dish made with a specific type of cheese called jameed) and wara' dawali (stuffed vine leaves). 

Of course, several other dishes make it to the special lunch menu including mezze like hummus and baba ghannouj in addition to the Middle Eastern salads fattoush and tabbouleh

Some families serve a traditional Christmas turkey as part of the celebrations too. 

As for desserts, Jordanian kunafa is a must-serve dish and comes along with an array of Arabic sweet delicacies like basbousa. Maamoul is also served to guests and is often made at home days before Christmas. 


The star dish of Palestinian Christmas feasts is a meal called qedreh, which consists of lamb meat, chickpeas, and rice cooked in a wood-fired oven. 

Served with yogurt, the dish is considered a traditional Palestinian meal plated up on special occasions. Mihshe malfouf (cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat) is another popular festive lunch dish. 

As with Arabs everywhere, star platters are accompanied by an array of mezze plates like wara' enab bil zeit (meatless stuffed vine leaves) and homemade pastries that are too good to leave out. 

When it comes to Christmas desserts, Palestinians serve a traditional buttery cookie called ghraybeh and maamoul to guests. They also eat Arabic desserts which must include the iconic kunafa nabulsiya.


Source: Sat7 UK

Egyptians celebrate Christmas lunch with mouth-watering dishes including the holiday favorite fattah, which is also eaten on Christmas eve. The dish dates back thousands of years and consists of rice, bread, boiled lamb or beef meat, and topped off with a garlic and vinegar dressing. 

Other items on the table include special Egyptian dishes like molokhiyah (leafy green soup) and traditional pastries. For dessert, maamoul is a must as it is in other Arab countries. 

Coptic Egyptians take time to distribute food to the less privileged during the holidays and often hand out a meal consisting of bouri (mullet) fish. They also distribute a popular Christmas dessert known as zalabiya, a deep-fried dough that comes with either sugar syrup drizzled on top or powdered sugar. 


Rez aa djej Source: Pinterest

Lebanon's Christmas lunch feasts are a true mix of aromatic Levantine delicacies. Most families serve the traditional Christmas turkey along with oriental spiced rice topped with fried nuts (rez aa djej.)

Kibbeh bil sayniyyeh, a meat and bulgur pie that's popular across the country, almost always makes it to the table ... so does kibbeh nayye (raw minced meat with bulgur.) 

Not to forget all the mezze that swirls around the table, from tabbouleh to batata harra (fried potato cubes with coriander and garlic) to makanek (sausages) and pastries like sambousek (dough filled with a minced meat mix.)

To top it all off, Christian families in Lebanon often serve a Yule Log - also known as Bûche de Noël - after lunch. They also eat traditional Arabic desserts and maamoul


Iraqi Dolma Source: Master Cook

From dolma (stuffed vine leaves and vegetables) to klecha cookies (date filled biscuits), traditional Iraqi dishes are always part of Christmas day feasts in Iraq. 

Some families also serve special Christmas turkeys or stuffed chicken while others cook spiced kabab and offer it with a salad. 

Popular desserts are usually enjoyed after the holiday feast and they include  traditional klecha cookies in addition to zalabiya and other Arabic sweets. 


Christians make up around 10 percent of the population and most of them observe a fast before Christmas. All dairy products, meat, eggs, and fish are off-limit during this period of time. 

Once the fast is broken late on Christmas eve, the feasting begins and continues until the next day when families gather for the grand holiday lunch. 

Traditional Syrian dishes like grilled kibbeh (minced meat mixed with spices, onions, and bulgur), yalanji (stuffed vine leaves topped with meat cutlets), and mahashi (stuffed eggplants and zucchinis) are the stars of the show. 

As with other neighboring countries, oriental rice and chicken (riz aa djej) is also served along with yogurt. People tend to make a wide range of pastries including the famous lahm bi ajin (baked dough topped with spiced minced meat). 

For dessert, Syrians stick to the traditional aawamat (zalabiya) and Arabic sweets including baklawa and maamoul