As Brits we are proud of our Christmas tradition. It’s an incredibly appealing one.
Heart-warming mince-pies, spicy mulled wine and a full-run of ‘The Snowman’ have long been basic staples of our perfect, white Christmas. And, whether it’s knocking back a whisky by the fireplace or spending the entirety of Boxing Day gorging on Turkey sandwiches, we all have our individual rituals when it comes to the festive season.
But what we find so great about Christmas may not be so great for our sense of adventure. Opting to spend the winter months put, for fear of missing out on a ‘proper Christmas,’ has totally isolated so many of us from the fact that Christmas is celebrated in many other places across the world. Which means that there are hundreds, if not thousands of incredible traditions that we’re missing out on!
Just take a look at what you could experience in any one of these 4 festive, Christmas destinations:
Christmas in Jamaica is such a bright and lively affair that you’d probably be too busy to even think of missing home.
In the days and weeks before the 25th, revelers in more rural locations take to the streets for the Jonkanoo parade, dressed in vibrant masquerade costumes that depict cows’ heads, horses, devils and policemen.
In other areas up until Christmas Eve itself, Grand Markets are opened, filled with delicious street foods, dancing, crafts and live, reggae music. Just some of the scrummy local delicacies that any visitor must try include pinda (peanut) cakes and Sorrel, a traditional Jamaican Christmas drink. Made of cinnamon, ginger, sugar, orange peel and rum, it’s an exotic replacement to our mulled-wine classic, and may taste even better!
While the typical Jamaican Christmas meal doesn’t include our favourite roast turkey, rest assured that you won’t go disappointed. Christmas dinner is typically made up of chicken, curry goat, roast ham, oxtail and rice with gungo peas.
Despite being a predominantly Hindu country, there are over 25 million Christians in India, which means that in typical Indian fashion, Christmas is a spectacular occasion.
Churches up and down the country are adorned with beautiful poinsettia flowers and candles, and the typical British pine tree is replaced by fragrant banana and mango trees, decorated with tinsel, lighting and intricate ornaments.
Across India’s bustling capital of Mumbai as well as much of Southern India, giant star-shaped paper lanterns are hung above Christian streets and houses. In the North-West of the country tribal Christians visit neighbouring towns and villages to sing traditional Christmas carols and share the story of Jesus’ birth.
As long-standing fans of Indian cuisine, British visitors to India should hugely enjoy the traditional Christmas meal. Succulent chicken and lamb curries, tender biryanis and even a well-spiced version of Christmas pudding are all staples of an Indian Christmas dinner.
Just a short plane ride away from home, Christmas in Spain is flamboyant, exotic and definitely worth visiting.
Christmas Eve, ‘Nochebuena,’ is the main event and a busy, sociable occasion. Pre midnight mass, celebrations take place throughout towns and cities, with many locals opting to spend the night in their favourite bars or restaurants before heading home for a traditional meal of Pavo Trufado de Navidad’ (Turkey stuffed with truffles).
In some parts of Spain (in particular the North) seafood is the staple starter of the Nochebuena meal, followed by an enormous roast lamb, pig or duck.
While the streets of Spain may see temporary peace during the time that Midnight Mass is being attended and meals are being eaten, there is even more fun to be found afterward. The early hours of Christmas morning are celebrated with music-filled, torch-light processions and parties will typically go on into the day.
Perhaps the ultimate Christmas destination for any traveller looking for fun, sun and an abundance of festivity.
Similarly to Spain, celebrations commence on Christmas Eve but continue on into early January. From Christmas Eve, firework displays, churrascos (barbecues) and enormous electric trees made up of real lights brighten up the skylines of major cities across the country.
Brazilian renditions of our own ‘Silent Night’ (Noite Feliz) are sung by traditional carol singers throughout the run up to Christmas day, and on the day itself, many families and friends take to the beach for a day of sun, sea and relaxation.
Thankfully, the traditional Brazilian Christmas dinner often includes our own favourite, roast turkey and vegetables – albeit with a slight kick. There are a number of creative turkey recipes that include the use of champagne, spices and dried fruits! Because of all of the vast European immigration into Brazil, staples of traditional German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Christmas meals may be found across the country. Delicious German Stollen breads and Italian Panettone can be easily found on Brazilian dining-tables during the Christmas period.