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What is a Christmas Melon?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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Many people consider summer or fall to be the peak season for melons, but there is a special variety of muskmelon that ripens in December. Because of this unusual winter ripening, it is called a Christmas melon or Santa Claus melon. Its flavor is said to be reminiscent of a very sweet honeydew melon, with a yellow-orange flesh and mottled green skin similar to a watermelon.

Christmas melon is often served at holiday meals in place of other fruit that may be out of season and less flavorful. Many countries around the world cultivate varieties of this melon in order to provide fresh fruit all year round. It is often one of the 13 traditional foods served during a French Christmas dinner, for example.

Finding a melon may require a shopping trip to higher-end grocery stores or specialized produce outlets, but the prospect of having fresh melons throughout the holiday season should be an incentive. Experts suggest looking for a vine-ripened Christmas melon if at all possible, since the added time on the vine before harvest often produces a more satisfying product. It can also be allowed to ripen on a counter-top for a few days, much like an under-ripe cantaloupe or muskmelon.

A ripe Christmas melon should have some give when pressure is applied to the blossom end. It should also be relatively heavy for its size and have a pleasant aroma. Preparing and serving a melon begins with slicing vertically through it and scooping out the seeds and pulp. The flesh can be scooped out with a melon baller, sliced into smaller wedges, or cut into manageable chunks. This melon is usually served by itself, not in a fruit compote or other mixed melon dishes.

The next time a cook finds himself looking for an interesting side dish to the traditional holiday dinner, he may want to consider offering up a fresh Christmas melon as a cold salad item or healthy dessert.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Sep 16, 2012

@seag47 – Expecting cheese and getting melon would be a bit surprising! Once the surprise wore off, I imagine your guests loved the flavor, though.

I'm thinking that Christmas melon would taste good with mint. I've heard of mixing watermelon and mint sprigs in salads, and since peppermint is so popular around the holidays, I'm going to toss my melon with a bit of it.

By wavy58 — On Sep 15, 2012

I actually saw a Christmas melon ornament in a hobby store once. I thought that it was a strange thing to make an ornament of, because at the time, I didn't know that there was such a thing as a Christmas melon.

I had visited the store to get some Christmas decoration ideas. They have some really off-the-wall stuff there, and if my friend had not explained to me what a Christmas melon was, I would have just thought that this melon ornament was another one of the store's many oddities.

By seag47 — On Sep 15, 2012

I served Christmas melon at my last holiday party. I took all the melon seeds out and cut the flesh into little cubes. I stuck toothpicks in them and placed them on a tray with the speared pineapple chunks.

Since the lighting was kind of dim at the party, some people thought that the spears of melon were cubes of cheese. They were quite taken aback when they put the melon in their mouths!

By Perdido — On Sep 14, 2012

Imagine my surprise when I showed up to a friend's house for a holiday party and saw a melon among the Christmas table decorations! I asked her if this was for a game of “which object doesn't belong?”

She put it there to make us all do double takes. She told us that she planned to serve it with the appetizers.

It tasted wonderfully sweet. I've always loved the flavor of honeydew, and this was honeydew at its best!

By jlmk — On Feb 12, 2011

This sounds like a great thing to bring to my next Christmas party! I never know what to make when I'm asked to bring a dish to pass. I'm not much of a cook, and I always feel weird bringing something store bought.

But I'm sure I can handle cutting up a Christmas melon!

By elizabeth2 — On Feb 11, 2011

I'm going to look for a Christmas melon the next time I'm at the produce market. My daughter loves melon of any kind, but I'd never heard of a Christmas melon before. She will be very excited to try it out.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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