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Here Are Tasty Cookie Traditions That Are Celebrated On Each Continent

Americans on average purchase over 2 billion cookies per year. While people in the United States love these baked goods, cookies are a universally enjoyed treat and have become a significant part of various international traditions.

From Europe to Australia, cookies have played a meaningful role in gathering loved ones for special events, each unique to its culture. Below are cookie traditions you can find on each continent.

Cookie Traditions From Each Continent

All over the world, different cultures use cookies in various traditional celebrations. Read about cookie traditions from each continent below:

Asian Cookie Traditions

Asian countries have a wide variety of cookie traditions woven into their culture. For one, the Japanese love gift-giving and place high importance on their relationships. One tradition, called Oseibo, involves giving gifts in December to show gratitude for those who have played an important part in one’s life during the year. Giving an unsuitable gift or using an incorrect manner to give the gift can offend the recipient. 

Therefore, the Japanese only give the best gifts during Oseibo, like cookies! Fancier cookies are popular gift items in Japan during holidays and throughout the year. 

Cookies are given as gifts during Asian holiday celebrations
Cookies are given as gifts during Asian holidays

One popular gift cookie is the cigar-shaped Yoku Moku Cigare. Like Oseibo in Japan, Yoku Moku Cigare is often given as a gift in Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year. During this time of the year, the cookie is sold in fancy boxes featuring that year's zodiac animal.

Many Asian cultures also place importance on their tea ceremonies which often include serving cookies. Many grocery stores in Singapore, Japan, and neighboring countries have whole aisles dedicated to cookies for these ceremonies!

Several Asian cultures use cookies in some of their most popular holidays. While they mainly use cookies for special times of the year, the next continent has traditions where the people eat cookies daily.

European Cookie Traditions

Various European cultures incorporate cookies into daily traditions.

In Sweden, an important part of every day is the cultural tradition of fika, an afternoon break where friends and family gather to converse and enjoy one another’s company. During fika, coffee or another drink is paired with a snack, often a cookie. These cookies are called småkakor, or “small cookies” in Swedish. 

Fika is more than just a delicious break from work; it is an important part of Swedish relationships. Swedish people are often described as “distant” and “unsocial." Fika is a time when they can let down their guard and form personal connections while enjoying cookies.


In Britain, cookies, called "biscuits," also play an important role in a favorite tradition. The English love their “tea and biscuits." A warm cup of tea and cookies in the afternoon give a nice daily lift that has been a customary part of English life for centuries. 

Besides being a nice mid-day treat, research has shown that pairing cookies with tea combats the effects of the organic substance tannin, which causes tea drinkers to feel nauseous. This suggests that cookies are more than an indulgence but helpful to one's health.

The British also include cookies in their Christmas traditions. Every year, they hang a variety of cookies on their Christmas trees. One popular cookie to hang is a “stained glass” cookie because its color makes a tree pop out more.

In Europe, cookies help people in various countries connect and enjoy time with each other. Like people living in Sweden and England, people in certain North American countries also use cookies to connect with others.

North American Cookie Traditions

North American countries have many cookie traditions.

In Mexico, the delightful aroma of Mexican wedding cookies, or polvorones, fills the air during countless celebrations including Christmas, funerals, and weddings. The cookies help create a sense of warmth and togetherness. These sweet delights, rooted in the ancient art of Arab baking, have been seamlessly woven into the fabric of Mexican culture. 

Polvorones - Mexican wedding cookies. Cookie traditions from around the world
Polvorones - Mexican Wedding Cookies

What makes polvorones truly special, however, is their eggless recipe. The abundant butter brings the ingredients together creating a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

Another cookie from Mexico that is baked during holidays is hojarascas. Crafted from flour, butter or lard, sugar, and fragrant spices like anise or cinnamon, these cookies delight with their crumbly texture and aromatic essence. Whether enjoyed during religious festivals or everyday gatherings, hojarascas pay homage to indigenous traditions, resilience, and cultural richness.

While Mexicans enjoy their traditional cookies, people in the United States use cookies more often during the Christmas season. Decorating soft sugar cookies to put out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve is a favorite tradition for families with younger children.

Do you want some of these soft sugar cookies shipped to your door? Even if it isn't Christmastime, check them out here: Soft Baked Mini Sugar Cookies.

Cookies are an integral part of North American cultural celebrations. Like North America, another continent also has strong cookie traditions.

African Cookie Traditions

Many African communities highly value cookies. These treats serve as symbols of love, hospitality, and celebration. Cookies carry a rich tradition of heritage and culture, from the comforting warmth of Mbatatas to the crunch of Chin-Chins. 

One of Africa’s most famous cookies is called the Mbatata. The Mbatata is a sweet potato cookie originally from Malawi. These treats combine two of Malawi’s favorite things: sweet potatoes, one of the country's key crops, and cookies! This cookie is traditionally shaped like a heart to symbolize Malawians' warm and generous nature. 

Unlike soft, sweet, American cookies, mbatatas have a chewier and spongier texture. Their healthier composition means they are often eaten as a snack rather than a dessert. Sweet potatoes and raisins give the cookies a naturally sweet flavor, while brown sugar and cinnamon add a hint of sugar and spice. 

Malawi, the warm heart of Africa and the home of the mbatata sweet potato cookie a wonderful cookie tradition
Malawi - Home of the Mbatata Cookie

The Chin-Chin is another popular cookie in West Africa that is fried rather than baked. The Chin-Chin gets its name from the crunch each bite of fried dough makes. They are usually small and have a golden brown color. The cookies are a favorite at celebrations in Nigeria. They can be an appetizer, side dish, or dessert, and are paired with almost anything.


This cookie comes in many different forms. For example, honey is incorporated into the Hausa version, while ginger and nutmeg are added to the Ghanaian version.

Africans love the different cookies that are engrained in their culture. Another continent also has culturally significant cookies.

Australian Cookie Traditions

Like other continents, Australian cookies have long since become intertwined with many of the cultural and culinary traditions of the continent.

Anzac biscuits are historically a huge part of Australian and New Zealand heritage. Named after the Anzac soldiers who fought in World War I at the Gallipoli Landing in Turkey, these biscuits were sent by loved ones to troops during the fight. 

Made with flour, oats, syrup, coconut, sugar, and butter, the ingredients make the heartiest and most delicious symbol of dedication and resilience to the country. These cookies can nowadays be found in every store, supermarket, and cafe across both countries. They are often one of the first items Australian kids learn to bake.

Australians have a rich history of cookie traditions like other countries across the ocean in South America.

South American Cookie Traditions

South Americans have a wonderful tradition of cookies in their region.

While traveling the continent, visitors will encounter the region's most popular cookie, alfajores. These delectable treats, popular across Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and Chile, embody the essence of indulgence. Alfajores are cookies sandwiched together with rich dulce de leche and dusted with coconut shavings or dipped in chocolate. 

These culinary masterpieces are enjoyed during Christmas, New Year's Eve, Easter, and other religious and cultural celebrations. They are often served to guests and exchanged as gifts among friends and family.

In Brazil, Biscoitos de Maizena is one of the simplest yet most delicious cookies. Made from cornstarch, flour, sugar, and butter, these delicate treats offer a delightful accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon tea break. With each bite, one experiences a taste of Brazilian hospitality and culinary ingenuity.

Originating from the Latin word for “sigh,” Suspiros are perfectly named for their light and airy texture that melts away in your mouth. Colombian suspiros, known for their crisp exterior and soft, marshmallow-like interior, are a beloved treat enjoyed by young and old alike. Often adorned with colorful sprinkles or drizzled with chocolate, Colombian suspiros are photo worthy while having delicious flavor. From bustling city streets to tranquil countryside gatherings, suspiros are an established presence in Colombian cuisine, symbolizing joy, hospitality, and the bonds of family and friendship.

South American cookie traditions are colorful and vibrant, unlike the following continent.

Antarctican Cookie Traditions

Antarctican cookie tradition is almost nonexistent. The only cookie tradition residents enjoy is the ability to eat packaged cookies shipped in from other parts of the world.

Great Cookie Traditions Found Around The World

Across each continent, people from all different cultures enjoy various cookie traditions. From the daily traditions in Europe and Africa to the holiday-centered traditions in North and South America, cookies connect friends and loved ones. These sweet snacks are an important piece of cultural and familial traditions across the world.


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