While our bellies are full of turkey, pudding and sherry, our thoughts turn to other places, where Christmas is celebrated in different ways. From Bulgaria to Goa, Christmas has a different name but the idea is usually identical: reunion, remembrance and goodwill. If you’ve ever wondered how they do things at Christmas elsewhere, keep reading, and better yet – book a holiday to experience Christmas in a different country next year!
Christmas Eve in Bulgaria
For those who enjoy the anticipation of Christmas Eve almost more than the following day, why not visit Bulgaria, where the night before is seen as the climax of the Nativity Fast. Revellers eat a feast of Lenten dishes that represent the months in the year and which contain beans, nuts, plums, cakes, and Banitza, which is a traditional pastry. Meat lovers don’t despair, however, as you can tuck in on Christmas day when wine and blood sausage is served! Bulgaria also has a wealth of Christmas traditions (some less present today than others) including: koleduvane, Bulgarian budnik and Christmas Banitza.
How to say Merry Christmas in Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda
Celebrating Il-Milied in Malta
A devout country, Malta celebrates Christmas Day with gusto. In addition to hosting midnight masses and processions, the people of Malta erect holy cribs or presepju and turn out for mass in their newest and nicest garb to take part in rousing Maltese carols. Every year the story of the nativity is read by a ten-year-old boy and after mass it’s customary to give everyone the warmest greetings. Lunch is usually turkey and potatoes and veggies (Malta was once a British colony, after all) and mouth-watering sweets known as Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel or honey rings.
How to say Merry Christmas in Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb
Navidad in Spain
Christmas is well recognised in Spain and a large number of churches, schools and homes display the Nativity scene or pesebre where families gather to sing carols and hear music. Just some of the feast days include the feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), St. Stephen’s Day (Dec 26), the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28) and Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve). A time for celebration, family gatherings, good eating and general wellbeing, Christmas in Spain reinforces Spain’s reputation for fine living.
How to say Merry Christmas in Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Bada Din (the Big Day) in India
Christmas in India is a state holiday although it is not a religious festival as only a small minority of the population is Christian. That said, British traditions of celebrating Christmas have remained in India, and in the run-up to the 25th December, decorations fill the marketplaces and images of Santa, trees and stars abound. In Goa, which has Portuguese Catholic heritage, homes are decorated, carols are sung and families come together in reunion. Traditional sweets are exchanged, and because it’s also the wedding season, there is plenty of celebration all round.
How to say Happy New Year in Hindi: Shub Naya Baras