Christmas is certainly one of, if not the, biggest days of the year in the Western world. While not quite the same, the day is celebrated with some vigour in many unusual places. If you’re looking for an unusual and memorable Christmas meal, here are a few places that you should consider visiting:
New York City – While you can get the best of traditional Christmas dinners in the ‘Capital of the World’, it also hosts a veritable treasure trove of cutting-edge restaurants representing the cuisine of every country in the world that will serve you almost anything – other than a ham, turkey or a Christmas goose.
Tokyo – While Christmas is not recognised as a national holiday by the Japanese, it is a significant ‘commercial’ holiday. Still, the Japanese don’t cater to Western tastes for Christmas and instead prefer a somewhat simple chicken dinner. In other words, most of the Japanese will be at work but the ‘gaijin’ can enjoy some of the finest raw and cooked fish dishes in the world on this holiday.
The Algarve of Southern Portugal – While a highly observant Catholic culture, the people of the Algarve serve up a delightfully different Christmas cuisine. The pace is a little slower, the weather is a little warmer and the food is decidedly different – typically an Algarvean Christmas dinner starts with bacalhau: dried, salted cod. Simply put, it’s a great place for a change of pace when the modern world seems to be intruding.
Lapland in Finland – It’s cold and it’s barren but the northern Lapland area of Scandinavia definitely says, ‘Christmas’. There is literally tons of snow, reindeers a-plenty and a Christmas hospitality unmatched anywhere in the world. In case you’re interested, some of the more interesting dishes are lutevisk and, heaven forbid, reindeer meat.
Rio de Janeiro – Located in the southern hemisphere, the weather is not what you’d expect and neither is the food. Christmas Day is dedicated to beach festivals focused on the whole cooking of large animals like cows and pigs. Still, the atmosphere is still quite merry, if somewhat unconventional.
Bangkok, Thailand – While the Thai are notoriously patriotic, they also love a party. Christmas in any Thai city is cause for celebration, but the events in the capital outdo the most extravagant ones in any other southwest Asian country. Be ready for fireworks, music and the most extravagant Thai dishes available. Have a look at the exciting tours that Local Bangkok Tours has to offer on their website.
Bondi Beach in Australia – Down under, the seasons of the year are reversed from those in the north. For this reason, as you can imagine, a summer atmosphere puts quite a different twist on a traditional Western Christmas. Known as the ‘sunburnt’ Christmas, you can expect every type of meal from roast suckling pig to a full-on luau.
Nuremberg – While the Germans are steadfast in their religious beliefs, they also surely know how to throw a Christmas party. Beer, wine and sausage flow freely but it is the home-grown wienerschnitzel and other local delights that make this town a gourmand’s paradise.
The Antarctic – Only available to the small cadre of dedicated scientists who live on the world’s most desolate continent, Christmas on Antarctica is a truly unique experience. The meals will be simple but the views and the experiences will be unequalled. Some lucky tourists are invited every year to spend a few weeks ‘on the ice’.
Anne Masters has written about history, culture and travel for years, but has found herself becoming an expert most of all on Portuguese culture, and now resides in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. You can find Anne on Google+. Anne Masters