‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, children were hiding from the Krampus with stealth – oops, wrong rhyme. Unless you’re in Austria where the Christmas devil, aka ‘the Krampus’ beats naughty children with branches; which is harsh – the worst kids in the UK get is the threat of a piece of coal in their stocking. But every country has its own Christmas traditions (some of them weirder than others) and if you decided to spend the big day somewhere else, what might there be to look forward to?
The Canary Islands is a popular choice and even in the depths of winter, it’s 21° with an average of seven hours of sunshine. But Christmas in the Canaries is an altogether a different type of holiday – for a start it’s Christmas Eve (or La Noche Buena) that takes centre stage rather than the 25 December . There’s no turkey or roast potatoes, and stuffing’s definitely not on the menu. Instead you can expect a feast of giant prawns in Marie Rose sauce, fish and sweet almond treats. There’s also no chance of zoning out in front of the telly – you’ll be expected to go to church and as for pressies; well, apart from a few around the 25 December, you’ll have to wait until 6 January also known as ‘Epiphany’ for the bulk of them.
If you do decide to spend Christmas in the Canaries or in any other part of Catalan Spain, then keep an eye out for the Tio de Nadal – it’s a Christmas log but not as we know it. It’s a hollowed-out log with a smiling face and in the run up to Christmas everyone in the household ‘feeds’ it with sweet treats. Then on Christmas Day (or Eve) all the children sing and beat it with a stick so that it ‘defecates’ out its offerings – it’s a bit like a piñata but with a much less pleasant translation!
If you want a touch of luxury and aren’t bothered about all the Christmas trimmings, then head to Dubai where Christmas Day is really just another working day. But most hotels will have special Christmas themed menus or celebrations for visitors .
But if you want a Christmas tradition that’s none like you’ve ever known, then head to Japan – their Christmas dinner is a KFC – yep, a Christmas meal from none other than the Colonel. Thanks to a 1970s marketing campaign, this is now the number one meal over the festive period – so much so that KFC recommend pre booking it.
Sometimes though, you don’t want to roller skate your way to mass (as they do in Venezuela) or throw pudding at your ceiling (like the Slovakians ), sometimes, Christmas is better spent in your own home – at least you know what to expect and you won’t have to bother with travel insurance. Or why not bring overseas traditions here – the USA has what’s known as ‘The Running of the Santas’ which is basically an excuse to dress up as the man himself and go on a bar crawl…sounds like a good Christmas to us.
If you do decide to spend the festive period abroad this year, make sure you’ve got the right cover to avoid any Christmas travel disasters and compare travel insurance through comparethemarket.com.