Christmas is a unique time of the year. You understand it right when you spend these festive days in a European city. Each country has its own traditions and is a good time to travel to different parts of the old continent. The cities are decorated with every Christmas details the human mind has captured, while we are full of emotions.
December 25th is the most Christmas day and is surrounded by great religiousness. Both family and social or religious customs imposed by the time can lead you a step closer to God, to a festive meal, to a song, and a variety of other commonplace activities for some places. With the sound of the festive bells ringing in our ears, we will travel to the European countries with the most interesting Christmas customs.
The customs of Netherlands
The great Christmas enthusiasm of the Dutch revolves around Santa Claus and his loyal esquire, Zwarte Piet. This tradition lasts three weeks, starting in mid-November and ending on December 5, when children find a toy bag at their doorstep. The fun starts with Santa Claus traveling all the way from Spain. His big arrival in Amsterdam is televised, but if you talk to the locals, everyone will know when the two travelers are scheduled to appear in their village. He and his assistants usually arrive by boat under the main canal of the village, but if there is no canal, they arrive by bus, train or horse.
No matter how you get there, you’ll find bands that play loud music, families who sing traditional songs, kids sharing candies and a very contagious atmosphere. Collaborate with the crowd as you expect His arrival. The winds in the canals and the North Sea can be strong in December, but it is worth it and you can preheat with a hike in the village followed by a Dutch café.
The customs of German
If you are going to be in Germany you should visit a specific Christmas Market. It is an old, old custom where every market specializes in local traditional food and products. It’s a fun place to meet some of the locals while they selling their homemade products. You will find exquisite things like candles, carved wooden figures, toy dolls made of fruits and handmade ornaments. Not only there are products to buy and get home, there are also delicious foods to try in the area – baked apples, seasonings, gingerbread, roasted almonds, cooked sausages and fermented wine.
The village is decorated with white lights, wreaths and dazzling Christmas trees. If you are really lucky, there will be enough snow to have fun and perhaps some kids dressed as kings, sing the carols. You will find Christmas markets all over Germany, from Aachen to Wurzburg, perhaps the most famous in Nuremberg. . Any of these markets will give you a great sense of Christmas as in Germany.
The Customs of Finland
You can not get closer to the North Pole than that. Think of visiting one of the many resorts you can find in the Lapland, region of Finland. In this winter landscape with frozen lakes and snowy forests, you can book packages for any type of accommodation you are most interested in, from small cabins to picturesque hotels and large resorts with swimming pools and saunas.
Once arranged in your accommodation, then you are faced with the monumental task of deciding what kind of activities you will follow. Let’s see, are you interested in a reindeer ride? What about a sleigh ride, or a safari? You may want to do skiing, sleighing with dogs, snowmobiles, toboggans or arrange a visit with Santa and his elves. Aren’t you still interested? Well then you can see the north lights. The air is fresh and clean, the landscape is pure and white, and the lucky ones have been telling you that the experience is truly enchanting. Maybe after all you might believe in Santa Claus!
The customs of London
If you prefer a little more noise, then I suggest you to go to London. One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of London is the theater. This time of year you can find a myriad of festive productions such as Snowman, Twelve Christmas Days, a Christmas Card and Christmas Before Christmas, to name but a few.
London is also known for his pantomime productions. These performances are often based on fairy tales, but they are really varied performances with singing, dancing and jokes. They are enjoyable and will surely push you into the spirit of holiday. If you feel the need for something more calm but still spectacular, watch a show at the National Ballet of London.
During your walk, be sure to visit the West End of London to see the Christmas lights and all the shops on Oxford and Regend. Walk to Trafalgar Square, where you will find singers to recite and a huge Christmas tree, which is an annual gift from Finland. Find an open-air ice rink and get used to the pirouettes or just try to stay stand.
The customs of Spain
Spain is a very religious country, so if you plan to be there for Christmas, you will see many national festivals called “Nacimiento” and instead of Santa Claus you will see the Three Wise Men. The season officially begins on December 8th and ends on January 5th with the Three Wise Men giving up children’s gifts.
Christmas markets and brightly decorated trees are also abundant throughout the country. In the markets you will find delicious fruits, colorful flowers, sweets, candles and other wonderful handmade decorations. At midnight of Christmas, thousands of bells call families in the church. If you watch one of these ecclesiastical melodies, you may hear the sweet sound of a choir exclusively made up of boys.
On the actual Christmas day, the Spains are in the church and they spend the day with family and friends and celebrating with huge meals. There is an unusual Christmas tradition known as “Hogueras” and takes place with the winter solstice. This custom, which is mainly celebrated in Granada and Hain, is the one which will allow you to jump over fire in an effort to protect themselves from diseases. Merry Christmas!
Wherever you choose to go, you will create countless Christmas memories to which will keep your heart warm for the rest of your long long life. Happy holidays!!