CHRISTMAS GLOBE: Five Places Celebrating the Season in their own Unique Way



For a commercial respite, head to Kenya where Christmas is still largely enjoyed in the traditional sense. Carol concerts are held in the run-up to the big day, such as ‘The Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols’ at All Saints Cathedral ( in Nairobi on December 24th. On Christmas Day, Christians go to church before returning home for a big sociable meal with family and friends. The main dish is fish or roasted goat, served with vegetables, chapattis and yoghurt chutney. Gifts are not so important, and if given at all are left until the end of the day. 


For Christmas on the beach, Brazil does it best -- locals spend Christmas Day celebrating in the sunshine. The revelry begins on Christmas Eve, when gifts are exchanged and a special meal of salted cod fish, turkey and rice is served at midnight. Rio De Janeiro is home to the spectacular Lagoa Christmas Tree (, the world’s largest floating Christmas Tree -- lit daily until January 6th. Now in its 18th year, 2013’s decorative theme is ‘A Celebration of Life’.

South Korea

Christmas in South Korea is enjoyed, in a commercial way at least, mostly by young people in relationships. Expect to see couples in cute matching outfits exchanging gifts over romantic meals or coffee and cake. Although the country doesn’t have a strong Christmas tradition, December 25th is a national holiday and its sizeable Christian population -- around 30 per cent -- will likely go to church. Others will enjoy a day out or take advantage of precious time off work to hit the shops. Major department stores put on extravagant light displays with Christmas trees and grottos. Shinsegae Department Store ( in Jung-gu is one of the most beautifully adorned and also a top place to pick up a designer gift for your loved one.


Perfect for family holidays, Lapland is a natural winter wonderland offering a guaranteed white Christmas. Spend the festive period here navigating frozen forests by sleigh and refuelling regularly with traditional Lapp food and drink -- meaty soups, fresh fish and cloudberry juice. Rovaniemi in Finland is Saint Nick’s stomping ground. Take the Santa Claus Safari which includes a trip to a reindeer farm, a ceremonial crossing of the Arctic Circle and a visit to Santa Claus Village where you can meet the man himself and send seasonal tidings direct from his own special post office. See for details.

New Zealand

As in much of the Western World, Christmas is a big deal in New Zealand. Except as December falls in summertime here, signalling the long holiday season, you’ll want to swap mulled wine for ice cold beer. Roast meats are still served for Christmas lunch, but are more likely to be cooked over a barbeque in the garden. For dessert, light pavlova is a favourite, consisting of whipped cream, meringue and kiwi fruit. The Ellerslie Boxing Day Races ( are something of a national institution and have been running for 150 years in Auckland. You can order your New Zealand Dollars here -

It’s not all about horse racing either – spectators can also look forward to high fashion, live music and beach sports.

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Written by Hannah Stuart-Leach
Culture & Lifestyle Journalist  - Currency Today

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