It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or is it?
In the Santa-red corner, we have those who adore Christmas and all its trappings. Whether it’s jolly St Nicks, lit-up cities in Europe, or lively barbecues in Australia, Christmas brings a sense of excitement and energy to these folks. They love the holiday and its connotations of joy, giving, family, and festivity.
And in the Christmas-gives-me-the-blues corner, we have the folks for whom the holiday just doesn’t resonate. Whether they are disconnected from the religious tradition, cynical about the associated materialism, or just not caught up in the Christmas energy, they would rather be somewhere else.
Well, we’re proud to be there for people in both corners. That’s why we’ve whipped up a list of some of our favorite places to celebrate Christmas – or to sit it out entirely.
Christmas lover: Night markets in Austria
Christmas doesn’t get much more classic than in Austrian Christmas markets, which come to a head on Christmas eve. Wander around magical winterscapes straight from fairy tales. Don’t forget to sip some Glühwein – spiced, mulled wine, guaranteed to warm your insides. It’s Christmas spirit in a cup! The image above is of Vienna’s Christmas market, renowned as one of Europe’s best (courtesy jvhemert, Flickr Creative Commons).
Tempted? Check out Airbnb’s range of listings in Austria.
Christmas humbug: Trekking in Nepal
If you want a white wintry experience that’s out of Santa’s path, Nepal is a great spot on December 25. This traditionally Hindu country gets beautifully snowcapped by the end of the year. While the high passes are closed, most of the low-lying walks are available. Kathmandu, a tourist hub, will be open and rocking throughout Christmas Day. (Image of Ama Dablam courtesy McKay Savage.)
If you want to be a high-flyer, check out Airbnb’s Nepal listings.
Christmas lover: Posadas in Mexico
Christmas starts early in Mexico. Temporary markets begin going up at the beginning of December. Nine days before the big day, neighborhoods celebrate posadas – processions commemorating the pilgrimages of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. “Pilgrims” wander through town, being “refused entry” until they find the “manger” – complete with full Nativity scene. Christmas Eve is the day for feasting and the attending of Mass, while Christmas Day is usually spent in reflection or in prayer.
Guatemalan Christmas also features posadas, as in the image above (courtesy Rudy Girón).
Christmas humbug: Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway
Really looking to escape the Christmas frenzy? Try a trip on the longest railway in the world. Running from Moscow to Russia’s Far East (we’re talking beyond Siberia), the Trans-Siberian moves you through several time zones – all of which are freezing. You might be in a carriage with a bunch of folks willing to share their vodka with you (don’t forget to warm it first, lest it ice up your innards) – but that’s probably as far as the celebrations would go. Then again, that’s probably far enough.
The image above is of the China-Russia border (courtesy GothPhil).
Kick off your trip in style – Moscow awaits.
Christmas lover: Retail nirvana in Singapore
Singapore? Yes, Singapore.
The truly amazing feature of a Singapore Christmas is its sheer devotion to consumption. Not saddled by religious or cultural traditions around the holiday, many Singaporeans fully embrace the materialist aspect of Christmas. This is capitalism as its most frenzied, as colorful lights bedeck the entire city and shops put out new products and old inventory on display for the masses. It’s a philosophy best summed up by an actual sign we saw: “Christmas: the Joy of Shopping.” (Thanks to Geophin for the photo.)
Oh yes, we have you covered in Singapore.
Christmas humbug: Getting away from it all in Burma
Gradually gaining in popularity since the release of political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma remains a haven for those seeking Christmas refuge. Outside the large hotels in Yangon, the largely Buddhist population generally doesn’t have much to do with Christmas (although it is a national holiday). Pictured above is Bagan, one of Burma’s oldest temple sites (courtesy Javier Martin Espartosa).
In Burma? Want to encourage independent travel to your country? Consider listing your space.
Are you a Christmas lover or Christmas humbug?