Christmas spirit around the world-cover

Traditional white Christmas is what we think of when December comes to Europe. But what “traditional Christmas” means to other people? Looks like that the Christmas spirit around the world has different look, shapes, glitter, smell, and taste …

I asked travel bloggers to share what Christmas spirit looks like in the countries they live or visited. They also shared their best tips on how to make your Christmas unforgettable when visiting some of these destinations.



Christmas Spirit around the World: Hanoi, VIETNAM

Shared by Sarah Attaway from Sun Kissed Suitcase


Living in Hanoi, Vietnam last December, I didn’t expect to see any signs of Christmas. After all, it is a Buddhist country. But to my surprise, Christmas is all

over Hanoi. The week leading up to Christmas, friends and family gather around St. Joseph’s Cathedral to see the Christmas tree, lights and nativity on display. Crowds overflow during Sunday Mass. Ma May Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the epicenter of decorations for any and every holiday, is covered in Christmas trees, wrapping paper, and Santas. It was nice to feel the traditions that I experience at home in the States across the world.

Christmas Spirit around the world- Hanoi

Christmas Spirit around the World: York, UK

Shared by Amy Trumpeter from Globetrotter Guru

If you are in the UK this Christmastime, York is an essential festive visit. The quirky medieval streets are often home to carol singers and mulled wine stands. You can visit a range of independent for your Christmas shopping. Most of these are centred around Fossgate, Stonegate and The Shambles. The most popular include Give the Dog a Bone, The Gift Gallery, The Peter Rabbit shop and the Cat Gallery.


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Parliament square turns into St Nicolas Fair (York Christmas Market towards the end of November, where the streets are filled with wooden huts decorated with twinkly lights, and displaying crafts from around the world.

Don’t miss the historic York Minster of course, the largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe. It looks stunning in the winter time, especially in the snow.

Christmas spirit around the world -York UK

Christmas Spirit around the World- Viking River Cruises Christmas tour

Shared by Barbara Weibel from Hole in the Donut

As an avid fan of Viking River Cruises, I’ve always wanted to tour the Christmas Markets of Europe from the comfort of their longships. After unpacking just once, I’d sail off to Vienna, Prague, Paris, and Budapest. On board, I’d try my hand at making a gingerbread house, then see how it’s done by experts in Passau, home of Germany’s oldest gingerbread recipe. I’d wander wide-eyed through markets loaded with glass ornaments and hand-carved Nutcrackers. I’d eat myself silly and sing Christmas Carols in the lounge every evening. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas Spirit around the World – Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA

Shared by Heather Ditmars from She Goes Global

I am currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, but originally from the USA.  This year, Christmas will be spent on the beach with a nice cool drink in hand!  Quite the opposite from the traditional “white Christmas” spent with the family.  I mean…Christmas in the summer?!  Does life get better?  I’ll take the beach over the cold any day!  I am excited to feel the Christmas spirit and the African sun simultaneously.  If anyone wants to join, I’ll be under my themed umbrella beachside.

Christmas Spirit around the world - Muizenberg beach-Cape Town

Christmas Spirit around the World – New York, USA

Shared by Ashlea Wheeler from A Globe Well Travelled


Last year, I learned that my new home of New York City has some pretty weird holiday traditions. First of all, there’s Santacon (where a large group of people dress in Santa gear and go pub hopping). Then there’s the old-school vintage subway cars from the 1930s to 1970s that replace the regular trains on Sundays. My personal favourite though, is the holiday pop-up bars which sell themed cocktails and are **liberally**decorated to match the season. These quirky traditions all make NYC a unique place to spend the lead up to Christmas!

Christmas spirit around the world - New York City

Christmas Spirit around the World – Uzes, FRANCE

Shared by Deborah Bine from Barefoot Blogger


There’s No Rush in Christmas in the South of France.

It’s going into the second week of December and there are almost no signs of Christmas in my small town in France. This time of year in the US — my expat country —the stores are heaving with decorations, gifts and bright shiny lights. People are fighting for parking spots and pulling gift items off shelves.

Over the weekend I roamed around my adopted home of Uzes with my camera, intent on taking photos of the decorations I’d surely find. What a surprise. Very few, if any, storefronts were decked out in holiday finery.  There were no shoppers with colorful sacks and ribboned packages. No Santas with tiny children on their laps.

Why not? I’m confused.

Maybe the French don’t know how profitable Christmas can be? Or they don’t share Americans’ zest for “decking the halls,” buying presents and standing in lines?

Or, just perhaps, the French feel about Christmas the way they do about food. In France at mealtimes, there’s absolutely no rush. Lunch breaks can take two hours or more. In restaurants or cafes there’s no hurry. You can drink wine, order your food and sit at your table for hours — until the place closes, if you’d like. No one tries to push you out the door. In fact, often you have to track down your waiter to get your check.

The French have it right, I think. If they’ve taken the “rush” out of “Christmas rush,” good for them. It’s a custom I’m willing to adapt to — like the food. For sure, running around from place to place, shopping and decorating makes you crazy. Taking time to enjoy each day of the season at a slower pace makes sense. Just like a good French meal. It lasts longer that way.

Christmas spirit around the world-Uzes France

Christmas Spirit around the World – ESTONIA

Shared by Eneli Rahula from Do Dolce

During the Christmas and winter time Estonia is a magical winter wonderland! Tallinn Old Town is already well-known because of the medieval atmosphere, lovely Christmas market and huge Christmas tree and actually Tallinn was the place where the first Christmas tree ever put on display in Europe on 1441!

But just as magical is rest of the Estonia also! Small villages, endless forests and modest, yet warm hearted people are the real soul of Estonia! Winter is taking over the land and everything is covered with fluffy snow and cold temperature (yes, it might go under -25C!)

Christmas spirit around the world - Estonia

Christmas Spirit around the World – Verona, ITALY

Shared by Rossi Thomson from Rossi Writes

The Northern Italian city of Verona is one of the best places to find yourself in during the Christmas season. After all this is the birthplace of pandoro, the name of which means ‘golden bread’ in English. Pandoro is a tall star-shaped Christmas cake which is served sprinkled with icing sugar so as to look like the snow-capped peaks of the nearby mountain range of the Dolomites. Treat yourself to a large slice of pandoro with a cup of hot chocolate – the thick gooey delight served in every self-respecting Italian cafe during the cold winter months.

Then head to the large German Christmas market in the historical centre of Verona held right under the approving glance of Dante’s statue. There you will find a happy assortment of German and local arts and crafts – perfect for presents with a difference. Not to mention tasty Lebkuchen in a myriad of shapes, Italian chocolates, German stollen and the obligatory wursts. Don’t miss snapping a selfie or two with the large white shooting star adorning Verona’s Roman Arena (which is older than Rome’s Colosseum). The star is attached to the amphitheatre every year since 1984. It is 70 m high and it weighs a staggering 78 tons. Have a very Buon Natale!

Christmas spirit around the world - Verona, Italy

It is needless to say that the period of Christmas and New Year is the most festive of all in the year. How do you spend your Christmas – with friends and family (traditionally) or planning a trip and exploring the world and its endless, compelling and beautiful traditions?


Like what you see? Pin this to your Christmas-inspired Pinterest board!


  1. So nice to be part of sharing Christmas spirit and nice reading to discover all kind of thoughts from all over the world! 😉

  2. Thanks so much for including my idea for the perfect traveling Christmas. I’m ging to have to check out some of these other fabulous suggestions as well.

    • You are welcome, Deborah! Your insights about the French culture are always very interesting and your tips very helpful. Happy holidays!

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