It came without Ribbons. It came without packages, tags, boxes of bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Perhaps Christmas means a little bit more! – Dr.Seuss
So what are you waiting for? Discover what Christmas means to you and what the little more is. Is it snow? Is it roasted chestnuts? Or is it just a holiday with your loved ones? We’ll give you seven ways you could celebrate this season of joy. Seven ways the world celebrates Christmas. Go on, and tell us which one you want to explore!
1. The world’s largest Christmas tree in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil has a summer Christmas, but the lack of snow doesn’t mean any less of a spectacular Christmas. Rio De Janeiro boasts of the world’s largest Christmas tree, at least until 2016. The 20 year tradition at Rio’s scenic Rodrigo De Freitas Lagoon is a much awaited event every Christmas. Crowds watch in awe as the gigantic 53 metre tall metal tree is set up to float on the lagoon. The magical moment happens when the fireworks go up and the millions of little LED’s light up the huge tree.
Must Visit: After you have seen the tree, do visit the little city called Natal. What is special about this city in Northeastern Brazil is that the city itself was founded on Christmas Day in the 16th century. The name ‘Natal’ is a Portuguese translation of ‘Christmas’ and the city really lives up to its name with a grand reenactment of the nativity scene.
2. Christmas without Santa? This is Tokyo, Japan
We don’t think there’s anyone who’s ever tired of Santa and a snowy Christmas. But for those unique people, there is Japan to the rescue. Christmas in Tokyo, Japan’s hip capital is more than different, it is unique. To start with, Japan does not celebrate Christmas officially, so there is no holiday. You thought shiny Christmas trees were the norm? Well, in Tokyo, whole gardens are lit up with more than 250,000 LED lights, not to mention the the Tokyo tower itself. The illuminated Tokyo Tower more than makes up for the absence of the standard Christmas trees. Roppongi Hills is where you should be to catch this brilliant spectacle.
Must do: If you are in Tokyo for Christmas, do not miss the Japanese version of the Christmas dinner. No turkeys, no wine, this too is a unique meal. A KFC fried chicken bucket and a strawberry shortcake with a Santa Claus on top is what makes a Japanese Christmas dinner! Oh and yes, do book your buckets in advance! And here’s where you plan the rest of your itinerary.
3. O come all ye faithful to Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Christmas is Amsterdam’s Winter Magic festival, the city comes alive in many ways in December. From December to January, the Amsterdam Light Festival becomes the life of the city. Over 30 artists and designers from across the world land up in the city and bring out their creativity. There are two routes that are marked out for the festival – the Water Colours or the boat route along the Magere Brug bridge and the other being the Illuminade or the walking paths in the city.
Must Do: Don’t leave Amsterdam without catching up on a ballet at the Royal Theatre. For the locals, the spirit of the holiday season is the famous ‘Nutcracker’ ballet. With the fantastic collection of classical and choral concerts, the city is definitely the place to be for the music lovers. Here’s the whole of the Netherlands in a gist for you.
4. Lights on in London, UK
If you are in Oxford Street, London for Christmas, you will be part of history. This street in London will be decked up for Christmas, for the 58th year in a row. The world famous display in 2016 saw 1778 snow-ball decorations made up of 750,000 LED bulbs being lit up for the festive period. The festivities have a special edge to it – Londoners donate money for each of the lights that will go towards a charity. The switch-on event of these lights sees a huge crowd, with traffic being taken off the street. The giant illuminated Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is a not-to-miss too! Speaking of the UK, here’s another interesting aspect of the country.
Must Do: In London for Christmas and not shop?! Remember these places – Carnaby and Seven Dials for the best shopping of the festive seasons.
5. A White Christmas in Lisbon, Portugal
More than one reason to spend your Christmas at Lisbon. The Lisbon Christmas tree claims to be the tallest in Europe – an artificial one made of steel, its height varies each year. Walk around Lisbon in Christmas time and you will see a white smoke that covers the city. It is this smoke that gives Lisbon its nickname – White City. Christmas and roasted chestnuts are something that locals in Lisbon associate Christmas with. Yet another reason to be in Lisbon is the Christmas Market in the Praca dos Toiros, where products made in Portugal are sold.
Must Do: The Aldeia Natal is a special Christmas village that has a whole lot of activities for children, the home of Santa Claus and more. Also check out the Tapada de Mafra, the area devoted to a national park. The train running through it will take you to different parts of the park, where events will be held.
6. The Spanish Christmas
In Spain, there is Santa Claus, but there is also Olentzero – a coal vendor who leaves gifts for good kids and coal for the bad ones. And then there is Aragon, who brings gifts for the good children. On Christmas day, parades go through the towns where the Reyes Magos (The Three Kings) shower candy over the waiting children. More sweet traditions include the Roscon de Reyes, a ring shape cake is is eaten the day after Christmas.
Must Do: Madrid is the heart of Spain’s Christmas celebrations. Try the Navibus or the bus that takes you on a tour all of the Christmas lights throughout the city. Want more action, try out the Christmas tours that take you on a roundup of Christmas traditions across the city.
7. Christmas à la française
The whole world has a Santa, but in France, Santa has a partner – Le Père Fouettardo or Father Spanker. While Santa rewards the good children, Le Père Fouettard spanks those who have been bad! Another thing France does differently is that the festive season extends well on February, and the Nativity scene is displayed until then. Check out the traditional Christmas Nativity Crib in France – it’s not just baby Jesus and the three wise men, but a whole lot of figures such as vegetable sellers, bakers and more! France is a real reason to give a European vacation a serious thought, here’s why.
Must Do: Christmas Markets in France are a must visit for the lovely atmosphere, food and the products on sale. The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the oldest Christmas market in France, dating back to the 16th century. The Lille Christmas Market in the North of France is famous for its food stalls, mulled wine and festive stalls. It is also just an 80 minute by train from London, making it popular among visitors.
Has the Christmas spirit gotten to you yet?! Raring to go places? Allow us to help you out, we are just a chat away!