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Tag Archives: Christmas
And that jolly time of the year has arrived once again! When lights and pine trees emerge from their hiding places, shops dust off their best Christmas tunes, and festive sweaters shamelessly parade throughout town.
Christmas is just around the corner, and with each year it starts a little earlier, as people don’t seem to get enough of it. If your traditional holiday cheer is less than merry and you would rather skip your local festivities, we are here for you!
We have selected some of the world’s best Christmas destinations, so you can get your Grinch on, but still secretly sip on some mulled wine and roast nuts elsewhere.All of these destinations will assure you of unforgettable Christmas stories, being by visiting the iconic Christmas markets in Europe, or relaxing on a beach, creating your own sandy version of a white Christmas.
Amsterdam gets very festive during the holiday season. Where “Sinterklaas” is awaited by 16th century houses filled with lights and flashy ornaments. Cozy Christmas markets emerge on ‘Leidseplein’ and ‘Rembrandtplein’–Amsterdam’s main squares – alongside ice rinks, where locals show off their renowned ice skating skills. Do not forget to taste the local “Oliebol”, a deep fried pastry that will definitely keep you warm.
In Munich, you can enjoy the hundred foot tall Christmas tree and a dozen Christmas markets, where you can cultivate your holiday belly with some gingerbread and international cuisines. The markets also house different attractions including a Medieval Christmas Market with gospel singing at the Wittelsbacher Platz, a gay pink Christmas Market (Stephansplatz), and if you have forgotten anything before leaving for home there is even a Christmas Market with ice skating facilities at Munich’s international airport.
The Icelandic capital is famous for its quirky Christmas traditions, where the 12 mischievous Yule Lads (the local version of Santa) are the protagonists. Locals enjoy 4-hours daylight and northern lights during that period, meanwhile, you can relax in one of their many thermal pools or stuff your stockings with some smoked puffin and shots of Brennivín (firewater) in local restaurants. The city has also several Christmas markets and the picturesque Hafnarfjordur Christmas Village (Jólaþorpið í Hafnarfirði) for a fun afternoon/night affair.
Rio de Janeiro
Who wouldn’t like to spend Christmas in a place where Santa dresses down to silky garments in order to bear the summer heat? If you think the city has no Christmas spirit, think again, Rio still holds the title for the biggest Christmas tree in the world. In between the beach hopping, you can enjoy some local Rabanadas (French toast with cinnamon and sugar) or any of the delicious local food. If your trip extends throughout NYE, get prepared for the millions of people and fireworks that embellish Copacabana Beach.
The city is the epitome of Christmas in America. The New England styled streets are covered in snow and the scents of traditional food fill every corner. The city is known for its celebration of Christmas ghosts past in the Christmas Revels at Harvard’s Sanders Theater. The city is also filled with Christmas markets as well as other numerous attractions that will attend to all of your Christmas’ requirements.
San Miguel De Allende
This city has one of the most eclectic Christmases in the world. While the weather is far from frosty, you can enjoy some of the local theatrical processions, as well as the many reenactments that take place in this beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site. The city does not have beaches as its compatriots Cancun, Cozumel, or Los Cabos, but if dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a cozy environment sounds like Christmas, this is the place to be.
This Indian city is a perfect destination if you enjoy beautiful beaches, warm weather and great Goan food. This destination has become a big hit among foodies due to its incredible and versatile cuisine. Goa is a place to relax listening to Carols, or Jazz in some of the biggest resorts in the city.
New York City
New York City is one of the first destinations when a traditional Christmas is something you crave. From ice-skating around the majestic tree at the Rockefeller Center to carriage rides through Central Park, the city has something to offer to every Christmas fan. The city is also known for its great shopping areas, you can buy your holiday gifts from massive chain stores at the Time Square or some unique pieces at the LIC Flea and Food Market in Queens.
If your soul needs some tropical isolation, the best place for your holiday season is in this paradisaical destination. Being a Grinch has never been so appealing, when your days are filled with snorkeling through coral reefs or kayaking in crystalline waters. Take a flight to Antigua and enjoy a scenic (booked) ferry ride to the island.
The gorgeous Vienna becomes even more beautiful during the holiday season. Experience some of the local glühwein and roast chestnuts in the numerous Christmas markets throughout the city. The town hall also sports a beautiful advert calendar decoration, where with each day, a different painting is revealed once a window is opened. You can also enjoy beautiful ceremonies in the Ukrainian Catholic Orthodox church and eat some of the delicious local dishes.
Fireworks decorate the night of Christmas in this picturesque Cuban city. Colorful floats parade through town, and the cheering people flock to the city’s main square for a huge party. You can also feast on the delicious local food like Yuca con Mojo and the best Tostones (fried plantain). Join one of the “El Carmen” or “San Salvador” teams and parade through the old streets for an unforgettable night. If the next day you are still hungover, wash it off in some of its amazing beaches in the nearby archipelago.
Do you agree with our list? If not, please leave us your favorite Christmas destinations on the comments below.
The holiday season is just around the corner, and although families all around the world gather for a big feast, some cultures do not share quite the same traditions. From controversial figures to exotic food, different countries offer very unique rituals that must be explored.
If you are planning an international getaway this holiday season, it’s extremely important to research the local traditions, so you are not made fun of due to your lack of regional smarts.
We wanted to help you out and selected some of the world’s most exotic ways of celebrating Christmas. Hence, prepare yourself for some exotic eating and controversial personalities and traditions.
Russia & Ukraine
In Russia and Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. This unusual date is due to the Orthodox Church’s use of the old Julian calendar for religious celebration days. So if you are traveling to one of these countries get ready for some special prayers as well as fasting. Sometimes even up to 39 days, until you are allowed to binge eat in a twelve course meal with hot roast Pirog (Russian pies made out of meat or cabbage), and Pelmeni (meat dumplings) in celebration of the twelve apostles.
Santa skips his milk and cookies while flying over Ireland. There, it’s tradition to leave him mince pies and a bottle of Guinness. Although not everyone follows this tradition, it is a common practice. True or not, we sincerely hope he has a designated elf.
Spain, Portugal & Italy
In these southern European countries, it is tradition to set up a model village of Bethlehem. Alongside Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, there is also a character called Caganer or “shitter” in English. Traditionally, this man has his pants around his knees and a pile of feces behind his heels.
Single Czech women perform a very unusual tradition on Christmas’ Eve. It is traditional for these women to stand with their backs to their house, and throw a high heeled shoe over their shoulders towards the front entrance. If the shoes land with the heels facing the door, that means they will remain single for another year. While, if the shoe points toward the door, then it may be a good time to start the wedding planning.
For over 40 years, the town of Gavle erects a goat made of straw to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Every year vandals try their best to finish the poor goat. The goat has survived to see Christmas only 10 times since 1966.
In the country’s capital Caracas, main roads are closed to cars during Christmas. This due to residents need to roller-skate to mass.
In Iceland they do not only have one Santa, they have thirteen! They are called “Jolasveinar”or Christmas boys as it could be translated into English. Santa’s first appeared in the 17th century as the sons of the two trolls, Gryla and Leppaludi. Gryla and Leppaludi are terribly frightening creatures, and had a reputation for stealing and eating naughty children. These creatures children are named: Stekkjastaur (Sheepfold Stick), Giljagaur (Gilly Oaf), Stúfur (Shorty), Þvörusleikir (Spoon-licker), Pottasleikir (Pot-licker), Askasleikir (Bowl-licker), Hurðaskellir (Door-slammer), Skyrgámur (Skyr-glutton), Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-pilfer), Gluggagægir (Peeper), Gáttaþefur (Sniffer), Ketkrókur (Meat-hook) and Kertasníkir (Candle-begger). As you can tell from these names, the lads are very mischievous and they have retained their unique characteristics to this day.
In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas comes on his horse and alongside his helpers Zwarte Petes during Christmas time. These characters have been controversial figures in the country, as many people see them more as slaves than helpers. Every year, Sinterklaas visits a city in The Netherlands with the aid of his loyal helpers which usually goof around while handing candy to the shrieking children.
For many people in Japan, their Christmas feast consists of KFC. Some say that the fast food restaurant used to advertise that Americans would eat KFC when alone during Christmas. Japanese picked up the story and pack up their local branches.
If you are going to Greenland, do not expect turkey. For Christmas, locals enjoy some “Kiviak” which consists of raw flesh of an auk wrapped in seal skin and buried under a rock for several months. Until it’s well into decomposition. Also leave some space for some “Mattak”. Which consists of whale skin with a strip of bubbler inside.
In Slovakia, the head of the family takes a spoon of Loksa ( a traditional Christmas dish made of bread, poppy seed filling and water), and throws it to the ceiling. The more the texture becomes glued to the ceiling, the richer his crops will be in the following year.
Do you have any interesting Christmas’ traditions in your country? Please share them on the comments below!
Can’t wait for Santa to drop down your chimney? Then join him on the piste! This is a wicked excuse to bask in the beautiful scenery of the Swiss Alps, feel the thrill of Alpine skiing, and rub shoulders with one of the world’s largest collections of Santa Clauses. Leave your reindeer by the fireplace and start waxing up your skis: Santa is taking the piste.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages ago we ran a version of a photo competition in which we offered you the chance to win a EUR 500 travel voucher. Remember? Well, you can view the pics here, which might jog your memory a bit.
Anyway, the point is that a winner was determined through ‘likes’ on facebook, and that winner was Maher Hatem. Maher chose to spend his EUR 500 on a trip to Berlin – an exciting and fascinating destination. After having thoroughly enjoyed his time in Berlin, Maher wrote a short round-up of his trip for us. There are some tasty tips in here, so it’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to read. As they say in Berlin, ‘Bonne lecture’!
Christmas is just around the corner and you can sense the holiday spirit just about everywhere; the streets are decorated with beautiful Christmas lights, the mobile bakeries are working hard to provide everyone with tasty desserts, the temporary ice-skating spot is up and running and the temperatures are below zero. The snow might not last till Saturday, but at least we will always have these pictures to remind us of this lovely season…