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Christmas Holidays: The European Way

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Christmas Holidays: The European Way

So you find yourself at the Old Continent wondering what you could do to spend this coming holiday season. Well, luckily for you, Europe is one of the most culturally rich and diverse places when it comes to holidays; you will never be short of things to do, traditions to discover and dishes to taste. The warmth of Christmas season will certainly touch your heart while at this enchanting destination.

Christmas Carols and the Christmas Tree at the Trafalgar Square

If you are at London don’t miss the Carol singing tradition at the Trafalgar Square. This year, from Monday December 8, to Friday December 19 all visitors to Trafalgar Square will be able to enjoy a myriad of singing groups from around the country, who wish to raise funds for voluntary or charitable organizations. Also make sure to take a picture to the famous Norwegian tree; a 60 year old, 20 meter tree, that was a present from Norway for the country’s help during the Second World War. The tree’s lights are usually switched in the evening on the first Thursday of December.

Viewing the Holiday Lights at The City of Lights

Although Paris may not turn completely snowy white during Christmas, it certainly lives up to its name during this season. The city is widely illuminated during December as many neighborhoods compete to have the biggest light display. Some of the best places to visit in order to appreciate the holiday lights include the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Champs Elysees. Another Christmas tradition in Paris is the ice skating rinks and the Christmas Markets.

From Christmas Eve to Epiphany in Italy

Unlike many other places where Christmas season reaches its end on Christmas Eve, in Italy it is traditionally celebrated starting December 24th until January 6th. The feast of Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th is a national holiday and it commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three wise men arrived at the manger. It is during this day that kids receive presents from “La Befana,” a white-haired witch that arrives during the night of January 5th and fills the stockings with toys and sweets. But if you are in Italy during early December, there is still a lot of things to do. One of the biggest traditions is to see the “presepi” or nativity scenes that are the focus of Italy’s Christmas decorations. The best place to see them is Naples, where hundreds of “presepis” decorate the city. Some of them are very elaborated.

St. Lucia, Trivoli Gardens and The Ice Hotel in Scandinavia

Those who love Christmas will love it in Scandinavian Europe. The Christmas celebration starts with St. Lucia day on December 13, commemorating Lucia, a Christian that died for her faith; and it lasts until January 13th. The eldest girl of the family dresses up with a robe in the morning of December 13th to portray St. Lucia and wears a crown of lights which symbolizes how St. Lucia overcame the darkness and found the light. Some of the most famous attractions of the area during this season include the Trivoli Park in Copenhagen, a beautifully decorated attraction park, opened every single day of Christmas and the Sweden Ice Hotel, one of the most unique vacation spots on the planet.

Although these are only some of the traditions and places to visit during a Christmas in Europe, regardless of the place in Europe you decide to spend the holidays, there is no doubt that you will be filled with the holiday spirit, the European way.