Eating carp at Christmas is a widespread tradition in Central and Eastern Europe. For centuries, families have enjoyed this freshwater fish as the main course for their Christmas Eve dinner. The tradition of eating fish for Christmas Eve is particularly alive and well in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. It is also popular in Hungary, Austria, Germany and Croatia.
Christmas Carp Tradition
The origins of this tradition dates back to the Middle Ages where religious rules were closely followed. Advent was considered to be a fasting period in the build up the the Christmas celebrations. This included Christmas Eve which meant the strict food guidelines that prohibited the eating of meat had to still be followed. Fish was considered to be an acceptable meal, so a hearty, festive meal was made from carp that was readily accessible.
It was in the 1300’s that pond farming techniques had began to develop, particularly in monasteries which needed a non-meat source of food for the many days of fasting imposed by the Christian faith. Carp did well in these early fish farms so were widely available.
Different Cooking Methods
The way carp are served on the dinner table slightly varies with local tradition in one country to the next. In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the carp is usually served breaded and fried along side dishes like cabbage soups and potato salads. In Poland, carp is only one part of an extensive 12-dish meal and often comes with dumplings, or pierogi. In Hungary, carp may often be cooked directly in a fish soup.
If you are planning to have a traditional Christmas Eve supper and would like to feature Carp on the menu, place your order in one of our shops to make sure you are not disappointed. ( We also have Christmas turkey and Geese available for the festive period)
We are open right up until 24th but orders will need to be made in one of our shops.