Christmas Abroad: Where Should We Celebrate?

As we break in our new toys and recover from our eggnog hangovers, Aaron and I are beginning to think about next year’s Christmas.  We depart for our crazy journey next summer, and we will be traveling for (at least) a year.  That inevitably means we’ll be in another country for my favorite holiday.  Where should we celebrate it?

© Brianna Shade 2014

As a military brat, family is very important (moving every few years, family was the one constant).  In our household, Christmas is a time to come together, share good food and laughter, and exchange gifts from the heart.  But mostly, it’s the one time of year we get to take a break from our busy lives and spend quality time together.  I look forward to it every year, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t miss Christmas with my family for the world.

However, next year, this is exactly what will happen.

Barely halfway through our trip, we will be in a distant land, conserving our pennies.  It sadly won’t be very practical to fly home for Christmas.

So where could we be instead?  Christmas traditions differ greatly around the world, but there are a few places we could see ourselves come this time next year.


Gifts are exchanged in Argentina as well, but the holiday focuses more on the celebrations of Christmas Eve, culminating in fireworks.  Located in the southern hemisphere, this would be a much warmer Christmas, though it’s likely to also be quite humid and possibly rainy.  The tradition that really puts this on the list, though, is that of Christmas Eve “globos” – paper lanterns.  Many countries have similar lantern festivals, and I certainly want to experience one on our travels.

South Africa

Also a warm Christmas, South African Christmases are very social, with lots of food.  In the absence of family, I will be aching for some social interactions.  Between party cracker pulling events, beach gatherings, and street parties open to the entire neighborhood, we would have ample opportunities to surround ourselves with new and potential friends.  And with traditional foods like ham and malva pudding, we know we wouldn’t go hungry!


© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

As you know, we are quite fond of all things Japan.  We visited a few years ago, and we can’t wait to return.  In Japan, Christmas is more of a romantic holiday, but we would enjoy all of the urban illumination festivals.  We got a small taste of that in early November, but the Christmas decorations would be wonderful to see firsthand.  I would also love to experience a choir singing Beethoven’s Ninth – popular at Christmastime in Japan.  Aaron and I could celebrate with a romantic dinner and some Christmas cake, though I think we’d skip the Christmas KFC.


As a land of everlasting snow, Iceland really knows how to have a proper winter festival.  In fact, Christmas is stretched out into 13 days of Yule, filled with concerts, food, and socializing with family and friends.  Icelanders even have a tradition of gifting new clothing so the Christmas Cat won’t eat their loved ones! (As a cat-lover, how could I not adore this?)

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The world has a lot to offer for Christmastime festivities, and we still have some time to figure out where best to spend it.  And we might find a new holiday festival completely separate from the Christmas we’re used to.  We’ll likely be in South America around that time, so that could limit our options, but it’s still fun to consider all of the possibilities!

If you were to spend Christmas away from home, where would you go?

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