Abebe, the owner of Abyssinia, a popular Ethiopian eatery in Nairobi, Kenya, shows some of the foods permitted during the pre-Christmas fast. Orthodox Ethiopians typically eat just one vegan meal per day for 40 days before the Christmas feast on Jan. 7. Gregory Warner/NPR hide caption

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Gregory Warner/NPR

A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then, At Last, A January Christmas Feast

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At Calcutta's famous New Market, vendors do brisk business in fruitcake as Christmas approaches. Sandip Roy for NPR hide caption

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Sandip Roy for NPR

A Punch Line In The U.S., Christmas Fruitcake Is Big In Calcutta

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Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish, is basically a stew of aromatics and tough meat parts like shanks, trotters and tails that benefit from a long cooking. Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography hide caption

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Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography

Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding. Edward Shaw/iStockphoto hide caption

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Edward Shaw/iStockphoto

The rellenong manok at La Cocina de Tita Moning, a restaurant in Manila. Chef Suzette Montinola uses a traditional recipe from the 1930s that belonged to her grandmother. Aurora Almendral for NPR hide caption

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Aurora Almendral for NPR

Megan Walhood loves the unique toasty potato flavor of lefse. "There's something so comforting about soft, starchy things," she says. Deena Prichep for NPR hide caption

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Deena Prichep for NPR

For Norwegian-Americans, Christmas Cheer Is Wrapped Up In Lefse

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The author, Dr. Gavin Francis, arrived at Halley base on Christmas Eve 2002, at the height of the Antarctic midsummer, when 24-hour sunlight illuminates the vast swathes of empty ice. Courtesy of Gavin Francis hide caption

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Courtesy of Gavin Francis

In Jerusalem, Syrian Orthodox Christian Nadia Ishaq prepares her burbara porridge with boiled what kernels, raisins, dried plums and dried apricots, topped with ground coconut in the shape of a cross. The holiday honors St. Barbara, an early convert to Christianity whose story is echoed in the Rapunzel tale. Daniella Cheslow for NPR hide caption

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Daniella Cheslow for NPR

A woman prepares a Japanese Christmas cake at the Patisserie Akira Cake shop on Dec. 23, 2011. The sponge cake is drenched in symbolic meaning. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images hide caption

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Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images