Meet some who are opting for an alternative Christmas dinner

As a German living in Co Clare, Sandra Lorenz-O'Sullivan mixes the traditions but opts for duck (bought from local butcher Adam Craughan) stuffed with apples and prunes. Pic: Eamon Ward

MOST Irish families will be sitting down to a feast of roast turkey this year, but many others are opting for an ‘alternative’ Christmas dinner.

German Sandra Lorenz-O’Sullivan is a language teacher (, living in Clonlara, Co Clare, and married to university lecturer, Leonard. They have two daughters, Sophie (6) and Christina (4).

“For Christmas dinner, we will be having duck with boiled potatoes and red cabbage,” says Sandra. “We order the duck from our local butcher and then stuff it with apples and prunes, before roasting in the oven. This also produces a very tasty sauce, served with the food.”

It is not unusual in Germany to have a different menu each Christmas dinner. “When I was younger, we used to have duck on Dec 25 and rabbit on the 26th,” she says. “Having said that, though, other members of my family, in Germany, would alternate their Christmas dinners and have goose one year and maybe steak or fish the next, but most of my extended family have the duck on at least one of the days around Christmas. All-in-all, I think a bit of change is very welcome.

“Another thing we do a bit differently is that Santa comes with presents to the house on Christmas Eve. He usually arrives between 4pm and 6pm, with a big knock on the door. The children will have prepared a little present or snack for him, which he gets upon leaving,” she says. “The kids then have the rest of the evening to play with their toys, while my husband and I enjoy a glass of wine and watch the kids having fun, or sometimes get to play with the toys ourselves.”

Aisling O’Shea from Kilorglin in Kerry, is a customer service advisor who lives with her husband, James, and two daughters, Mia (3) and Robyn (1). She is vegetarian, although some of her family will be eating meat this Christmas.

“Every Christmas, we have a family get together of 17 people (10 meat eaters and 7 veggies) in my aunt Aine’s home, in Cork,” she says. “We all do our bit, but Aine does the majority of preparation, before the day, as we are all coming from different directions. We start planning a few weeks ahead to see what we are going to have. I like to look for healthy dessert ideas and, this year, I’m planning to make apple parfait with cashew cream. My mother prepares salmon cakes, spiced beef, ham and turkey and she is also great for making Christmas cake and plum pudding.

“I, and the other vegetarians, will be having my aunt’s fabulous nut roast, which is a combination of nuts and vegetables, all finely chopped together with herbs, spices, feta cheese and breadcrumbs. We all have the traditional roast potatoes and vegetables, and homemade cranberry sauce, which goes with everything.

“I am trying to raise my children as healthy as possible, with veganism being the norm, while teaching them whole foods are better than factory produced. Also, it would be nice for shops to take the initiative and start putting fruit pots or whole foods by the checkout, instead of sweets — it makes sense to me. It’s little things like this which could make us a healthier country,” Aisling says.

Danny Mills from Waterford City is 31. He and his girlfriend Sarah will have Christmas Day with her family. His family will eat chicken, and possibly turkey, but Danny won’t.

“I don’t like turkey, for a couple of reasons,” he says. “Firstly, I find it a tad dry — but the major reason is turkey drummers, as these were my Mum’s contingency plan back in the old days, because it was quick and convenient, I guess.”

Danny indulges in all other aspects of the festive season. “Sarah’s family have been good enough to accept me at their table for the past five years, and usually dinner starts around two or three in the afternoon. The dinner itself is always delicious and consists of the usual suspects — roast potatoes, parsnips, stuffing, carrots, sprouts and some roasted vegetables, which have been sprinkled with rock salt, black pepper and a drizzle of honey — this was my idea, incidentally. Alongside that, there will be chicken and ham and this will be followed by Eileen’s Christmas pudding, which is really the best. It’s so good, I would be happy just to have that for dinner,” he says.


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