Are you ready to put something more than presents under the tree for the holidays? Are you searching for a gift that will allow you to have memories forever instead of something that’s tossed in the trash in a year or two? Well, a family vacation is going to be the perfect solution! The kids will love getting away from home. And you will too, as you all explore different destinations. If you decide to travel during the holidays, you may be able to participate in a few amazing Christmas traditions around the world. These Christmas traditions may then become staples in your household. Unless you are still taking family vacations over the holidays. Then you can incorporate them in each new destination you visit.
Okay, so I know you are aware of all the Christmas Markets in Germany. And how you can take a river cruise to see many of those Christmas Markets. But did you know that advent calendars in Germany date back to the 19th century?
At that time, Germans created twenty-four chalk lines on a door frame. They rubbed off a chalk line each day leading up to Christmas. Those chalk lines were replaced by paper advent calendars and eventually the calendars with doors filled with candy.
A family vacation in Germany during Christmas may have you seeing massive advent calendars on the facades of buildings. Hattingen and Bernkastel-Kues are two cities that have the best advent calendar facades.
Oh, and don’t worry. You can still purchase a chocolate filled advent calendar for the holidays. There is nothing wrong with something sweet in between all the adventures your family will be having!
One of the brightest Christmas traditions around the world is Noche de las Velitas, or Night of the Little Candles. This celebration is what starts the holiday season in Colombia. The locals light candles inside patterned paper lanterns to brighten up their homes.
If you can’t get to Colombia to experience this Christmas tradition, you will find something similar in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Farolito Walk on Canyon Road is just as bright.
Poinsettias bloom during the winter months down in Mexico and other areas of Central America. There is a Mexican legend that shares how a little girl offered baby Jesus weeds at the Christmas Eve service she was attending. As soon as she placed those weeds next to the baby, the bright red flowers appeared.
Since then, poinsettias have been referred to as Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, in Mexico.
While you can share poinsettias with others back home, get into the holiday spirit with your family by doing this down in Mexico.
Another fun Christmas tradition in Mexico is taking a swing at a pinata or two. The type of pinata you will see the most during the holiday season is a seven-point star. Those points represent the seven deadly sins. Once those seven points are broken, it is said that the people are representing their faith in God.
These pinatas are always filled with candy, peanuts, and fruit. So, there will be something yummy for you to snack on when the fun is finished.
Can’t go to Mexico for the holidays this year? Purchase a pinata to bring this Christmas tradition to your home.
Do you try to forget you own a mop and broom? Well, if you choose to take a family vacation in Norway on Christmas Eve, you can hide those items for a day or two.
According to Norwegian folklore, the locals hide their mops and brooms so evil spirits can’t use them to fly through the sky. After all, they need to keep the flight paths clear for Santa’s sleigh!
Children in Germany get gifts from Santa and Saint Nicholas during the holiday season. Saint Nicholas arrives on December 5th to leave small presents in the shoes of the children who have been well behaved. These presents usually consist of fruit and coins. But chocolate in the shape of golden coins has been known to appear in the shoes too.
A child knows they are on Saint Nicholas’ naughty list if they receive sticks and twigs in their shoes instead of presents.
No one is quite sure how the tradition of finding the Christmas pickle hiding in the tree started. Many people believe it is a German Christmas tradition. However, there is some doubt behind that.
It doesn’t matter how or when this Christmas tradition from around the world began. All that matters is the first person to discover the pickle receives an extra gift, as well as good fortune for the following year.
Does your family love to read? Or do you want your kids to read more?
Well, one of the Christmas traditions in Iceland is exchanging books on Christmas Eve. The rest of the evening is then spent reading those books. Either aloud or to yourself, as you snack on sweet treats.
This is an excellent option if you get to stay home and have a little family time on Christmas Eve. Or when you are in Iceland and want to “do as the locals do”.
Another one of the amazing Christmas traditions around the world is the thirteen days of Christmas in Iceland. On the thirteen nights before Christmas, children place their shoes by the window. One of the thirteen Yule Lads will then visit each night to place candy in all the shoes of good children. The bad children get rotten potatoes in their shoes!
Guess that’s why you will see all the children in Iceland acting very well behaved during your family vacation there!
Are you a fan of fruitcake? Most people aren’t. And many people would prefer to use this cake as a doorstop than attempt to eat it.
So, you may be surprised that fruitcake is a tradition that began in Egypt!
Egyptians did not celebrate Christmas. However, they did make fruitcake to drop down into tombs. The way the Egyptians saw it, fruitcake was one of the must-have foods in the afterlife.
Want to give fruitcake another try? Check out this recipe and see if it changes your mind about this Christmas treat.
Ukraine isn’t a destination you will be visiting this Christmas. However, you can still participate in one of their Christmas traditions.
In Ukraine, the locals sit down to a twelve-course meal to celebrate Christmas. Each one of those courses is dedicated to one of the twelve apostles.
A few of the dishes included in the courses are:
Make some of these dishes at home this year and enjoy a traditional Ukrainian meal on Christmas Eve.
If your family loves Halloween, you may want to visit Austria for the holidays. This is when you will discover Bad Santa roaming the streets throughout Austria.
Masked people can be seen portraying Bad Santa. And their goal is to scare the bad boys and girls. One of the best places to see multiple Bad Santas at once is the Krampus parade in Vienna.
Christmas is held on the eve of January 5th in Italy. That is when Belfana enters the homes through the chimneys to leave presents for the families. Instead of cookies and milk, the kids leave Belfana wine and local food items.
The Yule Goat has been a Christmas tradition in Sweden since ancient pagan festivals. However, instead of a man-goat from the past, a straw goat is now created each year.
You will find numerous Yule Goats throughout Sweden. However, the largest is Gavle Goat in Castle Square. This massive straw goat is more than forty-two feet tall and twenty-three feet wide. It always weighs more than three and a half tons.
The straw goat is constructed and ready for the first Sunday of Advent. It then stays in place until after the New Year.
Ready to get away from the snow and cold for the holidays? Well, it is summer over in New Zealand and Australia! So, maybe that is the perfect destination for your family vacation at Christmas.
If you do decide to spend your time in New Zealand, you will find yourself seeking the shade from the Pohutukawa trees. These trees bloom bright red just in time for the holidays.
Find a grill near one and enjoy the sunshine, shade, and warm weather, as you celebrate new traditions with your family.
You don’t need to travel too far from home to experience many of the Christmas traditions around the world. Disney’s EPCOT has a tradition where they hold an International Festival of the Holidays. This starts around Thanksgiving each year. And it ends on December 30th.
During this magical time, you can experience all that EPCOT normally has to offer. But then, there is also a Candlelight Processional, Holiday Kitchens, Glimmering Greenhouses, and a Holiday Cookie Stroll. Oh, and you won’t want to forget to tackle Olaf’s Holiday Scavenger Hunt!
Spending time at EPCOT is magical at any time of the year. However, the magic really takes over during the holiday season.
Here are some of the other Christmassy towns in the US you may want to consider for your next family vacation.
These are some of the amazing Christmas traditions around the world you can experience during your next family vacation. There are many others I can share with you if you need other options for the perfect family vacation over Christmas.
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