Alternative ideas for your Christmas Day meal

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IT’S that time of year again.

December 25, Christmas Day.

As soon as presents are unwrapped, Mum or Dad usually start their preparations for the celebratory meal in the afternoon.

Turkey has usually taken centre stage on dinner tables around the world, but is it time for a change?

Turkeys found popularity in the 1600s when the Spanish imported them from the Americas, and Henry VIII is said to be the first English King to have enjoyed one of the birds.

But Edward VII made eating the turkey fashionable at Christmas in the early 1900s, but it remained a luxury until the 1950s.

The UK spends roughly £20bn on Christmas each year - £1.6bn of that going towards the cost of food.

Four years ago, in 2008, approximately 10 million turkeys were consumed at Christmas time by families in the UK, a stark contrast to how things were hundreds of years ago.

In medieval England, peacock or boar were traditionally associated with Christmas Day and in the present day many families opt to not go for the traditional Christmas fayre.

Christmas geese have made a popular resurgence, with many celebrity chefs showing off how to prepare and cook a goose in the build up to the big day.

Many families in the 19th Century were members of ‘Goose Clubs’.

These so-called Clubs were set up to give poorer families the opportunity to enjoy a goose on Christmas Day.

Small sums of money were paid to people, like a pub landlord, over a number of months in the build up to Christmas and at the end of that period, the depositor would receive a goose just in time for Christmas.

Geese are also a popular choice because of the fat which can be collected after cooking.

This fat can then be stored and used to cook with, for example making extra-crispy roast potatoes.

Another option which has risen in popularity over the last few years is the multiple-bird roast.

This is usually a whole turkey, stuffed with chicken, goose and duck, leaving a wonderfully presented finished product.

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall even went as far as showing viewers how to create a mammoth 10-bird roast a few years ago.

For those who don’t like poultry, there are the traditional alternatives such as Gammon or Ham.

Many shops even offer the choice of Lamb or Beef presented in various ways.

For vegetarians there are the ever popular alternatives such as a Christmas nut roast, or fish options such as a salmon en croute.