It’s not only Macaulay Culkin’s family in Home Alone who decides to spend their Christmas holiday far from their home – a lot of people do and you can do it too! You can opt for unusual choices like traveling to an exotic island, which would be a truly unique holiday experience, or actually visit places where you can soak up all the traditions of Christmas without having to deal with cooking, visiting the relatives and relive every year’s Christmas hassle.
Felíz Navidad! In case you didn’t know, Puerto Ricans hold on to Christmas time as long as they can. In fact, the holiday season and the series of celebration not only last longer and into the new year but also start typically earlier than anywhere else in the world. It kicks off with Advent, the fourth Sunday before Christmas and reaches its peak on January 6, Three Kings’ Day or Día de los Reyes, and then it is followed by 8 more days of celebration. If you are used to sitting quietly in front of the fireplace and chewing chestnuts on Boxing Day, you are in for a lot of surprises.
Try the festive Puerto Rican delicacies, the arroz con dulce (sweet rice), the Xmas punch of their own called coquito (with unusual ingredients such as evaporated milk), lechón asado (slow-roasted pig), and the arroz con gandules (pork cooked in sauce with rice and pigeon peas). Don’t miss out the Holy Innocents Day on December 28, an April Fools-like carnival. So if you’d rather go for the palm trees instead of the Christmas tree this year, we are totally on the same page, believe us!
Recommended hotel: Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico
When you have the chance, why not visit the home of Santa Claus, or more precisely, Joulupukki? Warm up in the sauna to prepare yourself for the traditional “Christmas peace” that starts, and is in fact proclaimed officially at noon on Christmas Eve and lasts 20 days; drink glögi, which is red wine or juice with cardamom and cinnamon and eat gingerbreads in all shapes, sizes and flavors.
Although Christmas is a traditional family holiday when people tend to stay at home, but you can enjoy a festive dinner during the pikkujoulu or ‘little Christmas’ – parties in bars and restaurants. Dig in you’re your winter wardrobe and layer up when you visit Santa at either of the two Santa themed parks in Lapland, as temperature typically drops below minus 10 Celsius degrees (14 F) during wintertime.
Recommended hotel: Scandic Paasi
Santa Claus, Indiana
America’s very own Christmas hometown offers the most authentic holiday experience of all. Where else would you get your Christmas gifts if not in the dedicated Santa Claus Christmas Store? The town, which was originally called Santa Fe, had to change its name because there had already been a Santa Fe, so they went with Santa Claus, a decision that resulted in thousands of handwritten letters received by the town’s post offices and a group of kind-hearted volunteers actually answering the kids’ letters.
Visit the Santa Claus Museum & Village, the Golf Course and attend the Santa Claus celebrations. Since it’s Christmas anyway, pay a visit to the Candy Castle as well for a massive amount of treats!
Recommended hotel: Ramada Limited Tell City