If you’re growing bored of the same old Yuletide traditions of over eating bland food, visiting the in-laws, bad cracker jokes, and the horrible dirty grey-brown colour that seems to dominate outside in December, how about considering Christmas in a different location this year? We’ve selected six destinations where the customs are somewhat unorthodox, the food exciting, the in-laws miles away, and the traditions, well, untraditional…
Paris – Christmas is one of the best times of year to see Paris, the city of love. It’s lights and window displays, markets, outdoor ice skating, and its fantastic food make it an ideal place to stay. Be sure to see the Eiffel Tower lit up like a giant Christmas Tree, view the Arc de Triomphe, visit the Moulin Rouge and go to the cathedral of Notre Dame at Christmas Eve Mass for a truly memorable experience.
Guatemala – There is a special nine day lead-up to Christmas in Guatemala: Nativity figures, Mary and Joseph, are taken around a group of friend’s houses every night where thy sing carols and ask for accommodation (it’s a pity they couldn’t just go onto www.hostelsclub.com 2000 years ago!) The final day of the procession, Christmas Eve, a baby Jesus figure is added to the scene. Then proceeds the biggest party of the procession with much food and punch and celebrating. Traditionally, the kids get presents on Christmas morning, but the adults don’t exchange gifts till New Year’s Day, so I hope you have more patients than me!
Vienna – Hosts wonderful Christmas markets every year all around the city, the most famous being the one in front of the City Hall. The city if full of perfectly decorated trees, and buildings, even some of the city trams are decorated, and can be hired out for private parties. Be warned, Austria also has a darker custom that comes around on 5/6th December: Krampus! Krampus is St. Nic’s evil accomplice, who threatens to punish naughty children by whipping them with his birch branch. Don’t be surprised to see young men dressing up in devil-like costumes chasing you!
Sydney - As far away from Crosby’s White Christmas as you could be, Christmas in Sydney is commonly celebrated on the beach. Who needs to worry about Delia’s or Nigella’s complicated turkey recipes when clearly the only way to enjoy one is after it has been barbecued in the scorching sun! Australia is a definite choice if you want to get away from the cold drab weather we are so used to.
Havana - Between 1962 and 1997 Christmas was banned in Cuba as it was it was disrupting the sugar harvest. Nowadays Christmas is one of the biggest religious holidays in Cuba. Thousands of Cubans celebrate at midnight Mass and Large screens are set up in the squares to witness the Pope celebrate Mass from St. Peter’s in Rome. Houses are decorated with lights and people have a special dinner usually consisting of roast pork which has been roasted whole, over hot coals covered with banana skins. Sounds delicious!
Frankfurt - Possibly the biggest and best German market there is, in existence for over 600 years selling amazing local food and drink, and hand crafted gifts and clothes. The impressive squares are completed with huge Christmas trees and picturesque decorations, it is possible to spend hours wandering around in the cold but being warmed by the Glühwein and a frankfurter! It is also worth a trip to the rooftop gallery of St. Nicholas Church to see the splendid city views.
We hope that’s given you some inspiration to maybe travel to some new places for the festive season, if not for Christmas day itself. We’d love to hear about your festive travels and plans. Wherever you choose to celebrate Christmas this year we wish you a merry one!