Christmas and New Year’s traditions and customs around the world

We live in such a multicultural world that it is impossible not to notice how diverse Christmas and New Year’s traditions and customs different parts of the world have. Winter holiday season is the best time to cherish traditions and meet with the family. And it’s also the best time to take advantage of the public holidays and days off work so you can travel. You can be sure we spent many Christmas and New Year’s days abroad. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or in our case – follow the locals!

christmas new year around the world cover photo

It turns out that just following the locals will ensure (most of the times) that you will celebrate those holidays properly. And have tons of fun! So let’s see how we greeted the New Year and celebrated Christmas in several consecutive years.

Don’t forget – enjoy your holidays!

New Year’s traditions and celebrations

Kavala, Greece

Party, party, party, island hopping, party! Start early in the afternoon to warm up with ouzo and then continue the way you like it – wine, rakia, or just water! But be sure you’re in order for the next morning’s visit to the beautiful, even in the winter, island of Thassos.

celebrating New Year in Greece, Kavala
Can ancient walls resist the crazy partying crowd?
New Year tradition on a secret beach on Thassos in Greece
Thassos island comes to offer secluded beaches here and there.
Happy New Year from Kavala in Greece
Greek party – the band, the company, the sirtaki dance.

Watamu, Kenya

Although we struggle to decide if this place is more Kenyan than Italian, you can always have a decent pizza and ditch the fireworks in order to have a good night’s sleep before going to the beach the next day!

traveling on New Year's Eve to Watamu in Kenya
Hey New Year, we are ready for you!
Irun beach in Watamu, Kenya - time to enjoy some Kenyan traditions on New Year
It’s very easy to find new friends on the beach in Watamu!

Montevideo, Uruguay

The tradition says everyone should be bathed on New Year’s Eve! That means a “war” on the streets, weapons are water pistols, buckets of water, anything that can contain and spread water actually. Once you are clean and dry, you can move on to rooftop celebrations with new friends, watching the “war” of fireworks everywhere around you. Don’t go on the streets after midnight!

unusual New Year's Eve tradition in Uruguay - Montevideo
Rooftop safety – the port on the one side, on the other – fireworks and street war!

London, UK

If you like big parties and fancy DJs playing top hits, then hit the Westminster bridge or any other public space in central London and enjoy dancing closely with everyone around you and those fireworks!

Обединено Кралство, Лондон, мост през нощта

Christchurch, New Zealand

If you are feeling social but not a party animal – something peaceful yet with lots of people you can find in one of the city’s parks. Music on stage, plenty of food but no alcohol, blankets on the grass – that’s how you can really have fun without disturbing anyone else. Meet the New Year on a clear head as well!

sperm whale in Christchurch, New Zealand - an unusual Christmas experience
Meet this sperm whale taking a dive into the deep. Amazing splash at the end!
celebrating the New Year in New Zealand on a picnic in a park
In Christchurch, you can celebrate truly without being disturbed by alcohol and cigarettes.

Christmas traditions and celebrations

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Christmas tree! Inside a lake, changing colors and shapes to tell you few stories. Stunning and shining from dusk to dawn. The most fascinating fairy tale for free. As a karioka or a guest, you can admire it as long as you want to.

Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
Our photographer getting ready to shoot the Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro.
colorful and illuminated Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The sun is shining on a cloudy day.
colorful and illuminated Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Here comes the night in Rio…

Barcelona, Spain

We did follow the locals in their indulging with fresh seafood. And other delicious food – tapas, olives, and wine. It’s about food, right? Sangria is a food group, right?

Christmas traditions in Barcelona, Spain
There is no big bawl of sangria in Barcelona.
Christmas traditions in Barcelona, Spain
Sea food – the local specialty – always fresh and tasty
Christmas traditions in Barcelona, Spain
You will never be hungry in Barcelona.

Blenheim, New Zealand

We found our new family in the faces of our hosts, their friends, and total strangers. Everyone had prepared a meal or two and we ate, and ate, and ate. Accompanied by cool NZ wines, of course. After some fun games, we all had to cleanup and do the dishes together. Union is strength!

Нова Зеландия, Бленхайм, Коледна вечеря
unusual Christmas dinner at Blenheim, New Zealand
Part of the desserts…
unusual Christmas dinner at Blenheim, New Zealand
Our international crew for Christmas dinner – just getting the party started

Encarnación, Paraguay

Lie on the beach of Paraná river. That’s it! Spend a nice summer sunny Christmas day around the mate together with friends and family and don’t forget to dip in the water!

Christmas on the Parana River in Encarnacion, Paraguay
Let’s make a snowman sand castle!
Christmas on the Parana River in Encarnacion, Paraguay
Feliz Navidad!
Nakuru, Kenya

How about Santa delivering some presents to you while you are on a game safari? Well, Christmas doesn’t mean snow here but it means getting together with many human and animal friends. And some traditional music and songs can never hurt you.

Kenya, Nakuru reserve, Christmas
Santa has just arrived with his safari jeep.
Kenya, Nakuru reserve, Christmas
Rhino and friends
Kenya, Nakuru reserve, Christmas
Our unexpected Christmas guest

This year we seem to remain true to our own “tradition” of being somewhere abroad during Christmas and New Year’s. Stay tuned for new adventures and enjoy that quality vacation/family/winter/summer time!

Christmas and New Years traditions around the world, Pinterest photo
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4 Responses

  1. Going to Rio for Christmas would be amazing, but I’d love to do the holidays in New Zealand. We were so close when we spent 2 weeks in Fiji, but never made it over and I can’t wait to go back!

  2. Wow, Fiji sounds like perfect winter holiday destination, especially with the forthcoming forecast of -22°C or -8°F…
    New Zealand is heaven with all the picnic spots and summer sun 🙂

  3. All of those places sound lovely any time of year.

    • I couldn’t agree more with you, Audrey! Still the Christmas and holiday traditions and moods add some more charm to all of those places. 🙂

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