Christmas Eve Dinner in Germany – Würstchen mit Kartoffelsalat?
In the Netflix series “Over Christmas” (Über Weihnachten), the Christmas Eve Dinner is Würstchen und Kartoffelsalat (Sausages and Potato Salad). The Oma complains, saying that it’s also just the regular Thursday meal at her Old Age Home. But as her daughter points out, it’s Tradition, that’s what they’ve ALWAYS had, in fact OMA used to serve it.
Truth is, a 2020 Forsa poll shows that 1 in 5 families in Germany will enjoy a meal of Würstchen und Kartoffelsalat on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Dinner in Germany
Since Bescherung, the exchange of Christmas Gifts, happens on Christmas Eve, and often people attend a church service in the evening, no one has time (or desire) to linger in the kitchen. Besides, with a large meal scheduled for Christmas Day, it’s nice to give the cook a break. (Break… hahaha… )
Würstchen (sausages) ok, I get it, they are quick… but why Kartoffelsalat (potato salad)? According to Einfach Tasty, it really is all about the potatoes. In Catholic areas, from Nov 15 until Dec 25 a sort of Second Lent, also known as the Nativity Fast, is observed. As with the pre-Easter Fast, meat is not on the menu. BUT… potatoes are just fine. Because the kitchen in many households would be busy preparing a giant Christmas feast to break the fast on the 25th… a hearty potato salad would satisfy appetites and lighten the load in the kitchen. And according to the numbers, the Mayonaise version of Potato Salad is most common (my favorite!). Probably because it’s easy to make ahead and set aside. (find LOADS of German Potato Salad Recipes here)
In later years, people added Würstchen, because as we know… German sausages are tasty.
But still, One in FIVE?
I took a simple poll on my social media and newsletter. Granted, most of the readers are here in the US, but since everyone remembers their German roots during the holidays, it seemed a fair question.
What do you serve on Christmas Eve?
And I got some GREAT answers.
Of the 100 answers…. 23 said Würstchen with Potato Salad… a few said Sausages with Brötchen (maybe they don’t like Kartoffelsalat?) … and another 9 were in the Bratwurst and Sauerkraut camp with my family.
What’s REALLY interesting to me is how the numbers on my informal poll matched up to numbers on the very formal Forsa poll….
Raclette and Fondue – (my poll 11% / Forsa 17%)
Roast Pork or Beef- (my poll 6% / Forsa 9%)
Fish (my poll 6% / Forsa 4%) … with a few even answering Karpfen Blau (Blue Carp)
Forsa’s poll gave no numbers for these foods, but it seems like Rouladen (9%), Schnitzel (4%), and German Aufschnitt or Charcuterie are quite popular (9%) here in the US. Mushroom Soup and Russische Eier (Deviled Eggs) showed up a few times. Overall, most of the responses leaned toward German foods (although there was a “Chinese Take-Out” response…)
There were some fun answers to the poll too. One person said “Take out fried chicken” (I certainly wouldn’t turn that away). Pizza, and chili “made by a German Oma”, were also on the list.
Still, most of the menus are quick, or can be made ahead.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas Eve Dinner lately. This year, the family is coming to my house, and naturally, we will make our family’s standard Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and a rich gravy. Mom will bring Bratwurst from her source (George’s in Calimesa… say “Hi” if you see her there). I’ll make the Sauerkraut ahead (with lots of bacon and wine) and peel the potatoes early in the day to get a jump on things. Like most German Christmas Eve dinners, it’s quick and easy with only limited kitchen time needed (3% of German families will be eating the same!). Then we send the kids out to look at lights and wait for the Christkind to arrive.