Christmas is easily one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Everyone has that vision in their heads of what Christmas means to them and what that looks like. That being said, not everyone’s vision is the same and thus not everyone’s idea of Christmas is the same. With that in mind, I have asked some travel bloggers from around the world what Christmas means to them. I’ll start with my own and then pass you around the world! Enjoy!

    UNITED STATES/ITALY by Ryan Ellis RaleighTraveler.com

Tre Colore

Tre Colore

Growing up in upstate New York and marrying into an Italian family is a recipe for phenomenal food at Christmas time. My wife’s family is no exception and Christmas Eve feasts have always been something to behold. It always features an extremely long table that still isn’t big enough to fit the entire family. By family, I mean blood and non-blood as it seems that everyone you have known since you were a little kid is stopping by. Squeezing your way around the table is about as hard as getting a word in edgewise as the conversation is always ratcheted up a few decibels.

The feast usual features several different types of fish, and the fried calamari is a must. A lasagna for the kids or the squeamish when it comes to the fish and octopus, along with a few bottles of wine, or twenty. If that wasn’t enough, the real display of love comes in the form of desert with several types of cakes and cookies, none better then the tre colore, or neapolitans. Three layers of sponge cake in the red, white and green of the Italian flag, separated by raspberry jelly and a covering of chocolate. If I had one bite for me, that means Christmas, this is it.

 

  GOA, INDIA  by Monalisa Borkakoty  http://www.monalisaborkakoty.WordPress.com

Soaked Fruit Peels

Soaked Fruit Peels

Christmas is a family affair even in these parts of the world. 

Most of the Catholic population live in the coastal areas and food is a central part of the celebrations. 

Traditionally, sweets are made in all galore. Kulkuls (sweet dough dipped in semolina and deep fried), neurios (coconut fillings in a dough wrapped and deep fried), marzipan,  milk cream and milk toffee are the usual. For the Christmas cake, my friends mother who are Goans has soaked fruit peels, raisins,  cherries, candied fruits in rum for seven months now. 

For main course, pork dominates over everything. The Goan pork sausage is a speciality and pork sorportel, which is cooked with traditional Goan drink, Feni is a personal favourite. It tastes even better the next day. Pork Vindaloo,  Pork chops, pork assado, stuffed chicken or pigling makes the meals an opulent affair. Special home decorations and “Christmas cutlery” is unique to every household. 

Apart from food, the families start traveling weeks before to be with the rest of the family who either live abroad or work at sea. Another friend’s mom and dad host a family dinner leading to the twenty fifth where everyone generously gives time and gifts to each other. 

Christmas without snow, at the sea, on the beach with a King’s beer is a delightful way to celebrate too. 

Monalisa can be found on instagram at mona_the_lisa.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA by Makela Stevenson  Locaela.com

Pavlova

Pavlova

Despite Australia’s Christmas traditions coming mainly from Europe in the last 2-300 years we have adapted the traditions rapidly to accommodate for the warm weather and loss of religion. For starters, the 24th means little except for being the night that children will stay up to try and get a peek of Santa. We usually finish work around 3pm if it is a work day and relax or go food shopping in anticipation of the following days gifts and feasts. Christmas is primarily about family and food, with a fading knowledge of any religious reasons.

Christmas morning brings many gifts, usually exclusively with the direct family. A breakfast is prepared of fruits, pancakes, toast, eggs, sausages, hash browns and other fresh and fried food. Next is a huge lunch with one side of the family. Usually the host cooks a lot of summer foods. Quiche, BBQ’d meats and vegetables, salads and the essential potato bake – every family has a slightly different, delicious recipe. Fizzy drinks (soda), beers, wine and a fruit punch are enjoyed and everything is finished with a pavlova – a traditional Australian/NZ desert. Everyone jumps in the pool or heads to the beach between lunch and dinner as it is almost always a sweltering 40°C day. We play games in the pool and have a lot of fun as every generation joins in, probably the only event of the year where the 2 yr old, 15 yr old and 60 yr old will play Marco Polo or water volleyball together.

Next up is dinner and a fight to fend off the mosquitos. This is held with any of the family you couldn’t spend lunch with, or with your partner’s family. It is another huge feast, though usually it is a battle to fit anything more in after lunch. Dinner is often more hot foods compared to lunch and a lot of deserts accompanied with tea and coffee. That rounds up the end of Christmas though, of course, there are leftovers for the next week or two!

 

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PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC by Katie Ford studyhardtravelsmart.com

Fresh Water Carp

Fresh Water Carp

Christmas in Europe is just as magical as it sounds. Since I moved to Prague in 2014, I’ve experienced 3 seasons of Christmas traditions sprouting up all around the city. Those traditions include the Mikulaš (St. Nicholas Day) tradition at the beginning of December, the beautiful Christmas markets spread throughout the city and region, Ježíšek (baby Jesus) who delivers gifts instead of Santa Claus, and my favorite and most quirky Czech tradition- carp!

The Czech Republic isn’t exactly known for its seafood prowess given that it is a land-locked country, but the Czechs do celebrate Christmas almost exclusively with the fresh-water carp. This fish is often raised in lakes and ponds in Southern Bohemia, and is transported to Prague and other cities for the big day. Take a walk around the market squares in Prague a few days before Christmas, and you’re likely to see big buckets of fish swimming around waiting to be taken home. This isn’t the end for the carp, however, as the Czech tradition is to keep the carp swimming until just before it’s cooked. In many Czech families, the carp is brought home and placed in the family’s bathtub, where it swims for a few days until it’s cooked into řízek (coated in breadcrumbs and fried), and eaten with potato salad. The buckets of fish in town squares might seem a bit peculiar to the casual tourist wandering around Prague at Christmas, but this is a tradition follow by nearly every Christmas-celebrating family in the Czech Republic!

 

THE NETHERLANDS by Jolanda Jonkman woodyworldpacker.com  

Typical Dutch Christmas Scene

Christmas in the Netherlands consist of various traditions.

It already starts in the weeks before Christmas, when most people receive their Christmas Hamper ( Kerstpakket) from their employer. This mostly consist out of a packet full of food items, but in recent years more and more gift vouchers were given away as a pressie.

Its an old tradition that, when Sinterklaas (another Dutch tradition on the 5th of December ) is gone, people set up their Christmas Tree. Lots of Dutchies visit Christmas Markets to buy their decorations. There are a few really cosy Christmas markets in the Dutch cities, but lots of people also visit neighbor countries Germany or Belgium.

Christmas Eve is for presents and if you are a believer, you can go to the church for the so-called ` Nacht Mis` which is a special church service at Christmas Eve. After church, it is tradition to enjoy a bread meal with your loved ones, even if it is midnight.

On 1st and 2nd Christmas day, people spend time with family or friends and spend the day eating ( mostly a big breakfast, luxury brunch and festive dinner ) drinking, playing games and walk outside to refresh and when lucky to enjoy some snow.

UNITED KINGDOM  by Katie Rose tanlinesfortwo.com

Katie Rose

Katie Rose

My Christmas tradition is simple but always the best at bringing the family together on a cold British christmas afternoon.

My mum always cooks the biggest Christmas dinner, all the trimmings. It’s the only time of year we get starters. After these starters we all exchange one little gift we have bought for one member of the family at the table. 

My grandma gets a gift for my mother, my dad gets a gift for my brother, he gets a gift for my grandad and so on. It’s usually something very small and jokey but it always brings a lot of laughs and makes the Christmas dinner all that more special. 

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FINLAND by Kimmo Hakala loadsofroads.com

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

In Finland we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. Some start the day with going to Church, that’s more of a tradition than what it is religious. The 24th is the big day for celebration and it’s also when Santa Claus comes to the house to give everyone presents (he actually visits most houses). That is usually preceded by a huge dinner with the whole (often extended) family. The Christmas dinner usually consists of mulled wine, ham, gravlax (Nordic dish of raw Salmon cured in salt), sweetened potato casserole, also casserole made from carrots and cabbage, lutfisk (aged stockfish cured in lye) and in the Swedish speaking regions pickled baltic herring. Children usually eat meatballs and sausages, different kind of cartoons are popular for them as well, usually something like Donald Duck and other Disney cartoons.

After the people have eaten and christmas gifts have been opened follows hours of just talking and maybe drinking some more mulled wine. Certain families christmas traditions involve a lot of alcohol, certain families christmas involves none. 

Christmas Day is just chilling without doing much other than eating leftovers. 

DENMARK by Marie Meier mariestravels.com

Xmas in Denmark

Xmas in Denmark

In Denmark we celebrate on the 24th of December, where we are gathered with our families. As in many other countries we eat typical Christmas food with meat, potatoes and sauce and have a decorated Christmas tree standing in the middle of the living room.

After the dinner there are the typical Christmas songs that we sing while we’re “dancing” around the tree. We hold each other’s hands and form a circle around the tree while singing together.

Typically, we sing 3-5 songs before we sit down and open all our Christmas presents. The presents are being opened as the last activity of the day. Afterwards we just enjoy the presents and each other’s company before going to bed. 

Either the day after or two days later we meet with more family and play a game called “pakkeleg” (present game). Everyone buys at least one present, which is put in a pile on the table. All family members sit around at the table. One rolls the dice. If the person gets a 6, then that person can choose a present from the table. This is done until all presents have been chosen.

UNITED KINGDOM by Katie Roscoe creativetravelguide.com

Christmas is celebrated in many different ways across the UK, with all communities, regions and religions having their own traditions for this special time of the year. In my little suburb outside of London, our tradition is simple but perfect for us.

Christmas begins the evening before, when we leave milk and mince pies for Santa and parents prepare presents under the tree whilst their young children are asleep. In our household, we begin the day by opening our Christmas Stockings in bed followed by a full English Breakfast (for those that don’t know, this consists of sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, toast and black pudding).

Next, we get showered and head over to our local pub for a few midday drinks. We often bump into other locals and everyone is very friendly and merry as we listen to the same 5 Christmas songs over and over again.

By 3pm we are back home with a Christmas dinner cooking and the Queens speech on the TV. A Christmas Dinner in England consists of turkey, ham, stuffing, pigs in blankets (the best part!), roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings with a side of cranberry sauce.

The day ends with Prosecco and a movie with the family.

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