Unusual places to spend Christmas
Ever get bored of the same old Christmas, year after year? Now don't get us wrong, we love Good Saint Nick as much as the next person. But sometimes - just sometimes - the thought of eating turkey for days, watching yet more James Bond reruns and attempting to persuade your uncle that he's had one-too-many sherries can send a shiver down the spine – and it's got nothing to do with the freezing weather.
If the reality of another British Christmas gives you a similar feeling of ennui, maybe it's time to swap the Queen’s speech for a serene beach, and spend the festive season overseas? Obviously we love travelling at any time of year, but there's something extra special about jetting off for a late-December getaway, especially when you consider all the fascinating, and occasionally bizarre, Christmas traditions celebrated overseas.
From gorging yourself on festive fried chicken in Japan to roller-skating to church in Venezuela, read on for the Citybond team's top picks for unusual places to spend Christmas.
Ever wished that your festive turkey was covered in a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices? Japan has the answer - Kentucky Fried Christmas! In the Land of the Rising Sun, Christmas isn't a big deal as only about one per cent of the population is Christian. But back in the 1970s an inspired advertising campaign by Takeshi Okawara urged his fellow countrymen to try "Kentucky for Christmas". It caught on to a staggering extent and today an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families do just that. KFC's festive deals are elaborate, including a premium full roasted chicken and sides for around £40. So if you fancy a finger-lickin' good Christmas, jet off to Japan this December.
If a Christmas meal of fried chicken is a little conventional for your tastes, head for South Africa, where many people consider fried caterpillars to be quite the seasonal delicacy. Sceptical about replacing your 25 December roast dinner with a lepidoptera-based feast? We should point out that these aren't just any old caterpillars. The pine emperor moth caterpillar, nicknamed the Christmas caterpillar, sports a festive red, green and blue colour scheme and tradition holds that anyone who eats one of these caterpillars will be extra lucky over the coming year.
In regional Austria, things get even darker at Christmas as Santa's evil accomplice - a devilish creature called Krampus, who boasts a mouth full of fangs, two huge horns and a startling Gene Simmons-esque tongue – prowls around. Throughout December, Krampus is said to roam the streets on the lookout for badly behaved children to punish. These punishments range from the weird (swatting them with twigs) to the twisted (sticking them in a sack and then eating them). If your Christmas would benefit from the addition of a goat/demon hybrid, you'll love Salzburg's Krampus Parade in early December, when hordes of Austrians don terrifying masks and search the city for kids who didn't make the ‘nice list’. Eek!
Looking for something a little more whimsical than a child-eating demon? How about Venezuela's annual Christmas Day roller skate parade? Proving that every occasion can be improved with the addition of wheeled shoes, when 25 December comes around the residents of Caracas don their skates and high-tail it to church for morning mass. The tradition has become so popular that the roads of the Venezuelan capital are now closed to traffic from 8am to ensure that everyone arrives safely. It's not entirely clear why the whole festive roller skating tradition started, but one theory suggests that the skates are a replacement for sleds in tropical Caracas, where the average high temperature in December is a decidedly un-frosty 27C.
Sure, Christmas is great, and we love to keep warm with a log fire and chunky knits. But wouldn't it be even better if a key part of your pre-Xmas day routine included a trip to the sauna? If this sounds appealing do yourself a favour and book a trip to Finland. On Christmas Eve, it's a Finnish tradition to strip off and head for a lengthy sauna session with all your nearest and dearest. Suitably warmed (and presumably now clothed), they then head out for a raucous evening of festive revelry. Oh also there's supposedly a ‘sauna elf’ who punishes people for unsavoury behaviour in the sauna. Don't forget to reward the elf during your Finnish Christmas getaway by leaving food or occasionally warming the sauna just for him/her/it.
Wherever you plan on travelling to over the coming months it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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