Today, we live in a world which sees many festivals being celebrated by many different cultures. Some festivals are exclusive to a community while some are celebrated all around the world. Such is the case with Christmas. Though not celebrated on the same scale globally, the festive fervour can be felt everywhere. Since it’s impossible to write about how Christmas is celebrated in all places across the world, here’s how it’s celebrated in the following 5 places that we’ve listed off the top of our heads – Australia, Italy, Spain, India and…Alaska!
Every country adds its own flavour to the Christmas celebrations but they’re all connected with one thing – the spirit of creating experiences with loved ones!
And for our mates in Australia, said experiences are not created in snow but on sunny & sandy beaches! With the onset of summer in December, Australians head outdoors to ring in the festivities. Families get together for a traditional Christmas Day lunch that consists of classic delicacies such as ham, prawns, pies etc. Barbecues in backyards are also common and one can find grilled meats, burgers and salads on every plate. You will find all this plus some great fresh produce at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Victoria. From meats to desserts, they have everything needed for a delicious Christmas meal. Food is always an important part of any celebration and combined with good company, you get the recipe for the perfect Christmas experience.
To beat the heat, people head to the beaches of Australia with one of the most famous being Bondi Beach in Sydney. People flock here during Christmas to celebrate. You’ll come across people surfing in Santa hats, making sand Santas and putting up Christmas trees right on the beach! And if you want to do some Christmas shopping, head over to Bondi Markets. Just a stone’s throw away from the beach, you’ll find designer clothing, jewellery, accessories, arts and crafts and much more – all that is there on your Christmas shopping list, you’ll find at Bondi Markets! So if you want to celebrate Christmas a little differently and by that we mean celebrating on the beach, in December, under the sun, Australia is the place to be at!
Moving upwards to Italy, Christmas here is not only celebrated on the 25th but for the whole of December. It officially starts from December 8th, the Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. On this day, decorations start going up, both, on the streets and inside people’s homes. The festivities then go on till January 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany which marks the end of the long holiday season. This is the day Christmas is truly celebrated in Italy. Fun fact, while the rest of the world looks forward to the arrival of Santa, Italians anticipate the arrival of La Befana – a woman who, according to legend, flies on a broomstick bringing presents to children in Italy. Epiphany is a public holiday throughout the country and is celebrated with much gusto. On this day, traditional Italian food is prepared and families get together and revel in the festivities.
During this festive season, Italy gets brighter with pretty lights; colourful Christmas trees are put up in the main squares of its cities along with magical Christmas markets. And there’s a lot going on in all corners of the country. At the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you can watch the Pope address the crowds that have come for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. If you’re visiting Milan, the world’s most renowned shopping destination, then you can shop till you drop by visiting its Christmas markets, one of the most famous being, ‘Oh bej!’ which means ‘oh so nice!’. And trust us, that’s what you’ll be exclaiming once you go there! In fact, it doesn’t matter where you go; any place you visit, be it Venice, or Florence or Tuscany, will have you exclaiming in delight. It will also have you feeling like you’re part of a fairytale because that’s what Italy is like during Christmas; it’s like a fairytale…
It’s not only Italy that celebrates Christmas for almost a month; Spain also follows similar traditions -the celebrations start on December 8th with the ‘Immaculada’ which refers to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Being a national holiday, the streets are filled with people taking a stroll along with their families and friends, enjoying the festive atmosphere that is slowly building up to the main Christmas celebrations. Around this time, Christmas markets are set up throughout the country, selling everything from traditional food to Spanish-themed gift articles. Apart from its markets, Nativity Scenes, a display of the whole town of Bethlehem and its inhabitants, are also popular. These nativity scenes can either be small or life-sized. Some towns in Spain even enact the scenes by dressing up as biblical characters.
All this builds up to Christmas Eve, the day when families get together for a traditional meal to celebrate the festival; and the festivities continue on to the 25th with families ringing in Christmas together.
Although the festivities have kicked off, it’s not till January 5th that people start with the gift giving proceedings, which is the main essence of Christmas. On January 5th, Spain celebrates Three Kings’ Day, a day that honours the arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem. Today, this day is celebrated with parades and processions, especially in modern cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Participants dress up in bright costumes and throngs of people take to the streets to watch the parade. If you plan on visiting then make sure to carry a bag or an upturned umbrella to catch all the handfuls of sweets that the costume-clad participants throw into the crowd!
All this comes together and makes Spain burst with colour and joy. It’s a wonderful time to be in this country as there’s so much to experience, so many memories to make and ultimately, so much to feel!
While countries in different parts of the world celebrate Christmas as one of their biggest festivals, in India, it’s one of the many festivals celebrated! Reason being that India is a culturally diverse and secular country, accommodating people from all faiths. There are some who celebrate Christmas on a big scale while some celebrate as a way of getting together with their friends and family.
The state of Goa perhaps sees India’s largest Christmas celebrations. It has a heavy western influence because it was once a colony of the Portuguese. Not only is it celebrated by its local population but by all the tourists there as well. Being a coastal place, lots of Christmas celebrations take place on its numerous beaches that are decorated with lights. Families get together for a traditional Christmas dinner and then head to church (and Goa has a lot of those) for Midnight Mass. Hymns and carols are sung during Mass and being in the midst of it all is a complete divine experience. The same is followed in southern states such as Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Feasts with families, decorating houses with lights, going for Mass and just being together with your loved ones – all these things are part of the essence of Christmas which India captures perfectly.
And last but not the least… Alaska! One cannot mention Christmas and not talk about Alaska. Why? Because Santa is from there! Well, supposedly so. Alas(ka), we’ll never know of Santa’s exact origin but that doesn’t stop us from believing that Alaska just might be.
Alaska, a state in the US, is famous for its natural wonders such as glaciers and the crisp snow that falls over the entire state.
Here, you will get to experience a white Christmas. Its cities get covered in a white blanket of snow that looks absolutely enchanting. Capital Juneau with its Christmas lights makes for a breathtaking view. And the blend of snow, lights and even the cold, fills the atmosphere with tranquility.
Speaking of cities of Alaska, you must visit its most famous one, North Pole. Believed to be Santa’s hometown, this small city of 2000-odd people keeps the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year. Its people have engineered the entire city down to a T. Anything and everything Santa related, you will find in North Pole. In Christmas, the Winter Festival is famous for drawing in crowds with fireworks, food stalls and fun but at the hub of all festivities is Santa Claus House, general store and post office turned holiday shop. It also houses the world’s largest Santa Claus statue.
So if you are wondering where to have the quintessential Christmas experience, with snow, and Santa and the works, then look no further than North Pole!
Though we’ve listed out a bit about what Christmas is like in these 5 places, it is much more than that. It is about what you experience, not only by yourself but with your loved ones because ‘tis the season of celebrating the joy of giving, of togetherness; ‘tis the season to feel happy!
It also doesn’t matter where you are. What matters is your experience, the memories you create with your loved ones and the emotions that you feel on your journey.
And we are here for this exact reason – to plan a trip for you that will really make you feel because at the end of the day, that’s what matters. So log on to feelaplace.com and we’ll help you in not only creating an experience but feeling it as well…
Merry Christmas, folks!