Credit: Bobbyrettew via Creative Commons

Alternative Christmases

By Ruth Johns-Bishop

Ruth Johns-Bishop argues in favour of breaking tradition by travelling elsewhere for Christmas break.

After being cooped up in our houses for so long, it’s tricky to remember a time when travel was totally possible. On top of the shorter days and grimy weather, it’s even more tempting to nosy at future travel ideas and plan trips. One time of year when travel is definitely underrated, is Christmas. While it’s often a time when people cosy up at home in their living rooms with family and friends close by, it’s also a great time to plan a trip and experience something new. 

It’s common to get comfortable with annual routines surrounding Christmas, but don’t be afraid to break the habits. Similar Christmases year after year can make them less memorable, so that years of festivities in the same house with dinner at 4pm, and Call the Midwife at 8pm, while nibbling the edge of a mince pie, can all blur into one. 

I’ve definitely preferred the idea of Christmas at home before, because in a normal year, a relaxing fortnight at home seems an ideal detox from busy schedules and deadlines. But with nine months of Covid-19 under our belts, it’s made people more keen to travel than ever, and so no longer may Christmas be dismissed as the wrong time of year to go on holiday. One downside of being on holiday for Christmas may be that our regular routines would be different, or may not even be possible somewhere else. However, this can also be one of the perks! By being somewhere different, it is a perfect opportunity to do new things that you wouldn’t normally do. Being somewhere new one Christmas is a great way to make the celebration more memorable. Perhaps you’ve never been skiing on Boxing Day, or snorkelled on New Year’s Eve? Going somewhere over the holidays is a great way to make a Christmas stand out in your memory. 

Christmas traditions are important to people and I definitely have a tendency to focus on the ones I’m familiar with, like making mulled wine at home, icing a simnel cake, or going to the pub on Christmas Eve. In reality, there are hundreds of Christmas traditions around the world, many of which we’re not familiar with. We can often get so used to our own traditions and cultures that we forget there are numerous variations of Christmas celebrations across the globe. Travel at Christmas would be a wonderful chance to explore and learn different ways of celebrating in different countries and cultures. A “traditional” Christmas might mean one thing in the UK, but could be totally different somewhere else. A Christmas away from home could be an opportunity to learn traditions of another culture, try new festive foods, and experience new ways of celebrating. For instance in the UK, neither 5 December or 6 January have much significance over Christmas, though they do in some other countries and cultures. 

A Christmas away from home might mean that it would be harder to see wider family over the period, but this could also be a great excuse to extend festivities. If you were planning a getaway over Christmas itself, it would be a fantastic reason to see family and friends in the first three weeks of December or so, or after New Year in early January. Doing this, you would be spreading the good stuff over a few weeks, rather than just the days from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day. Likewise, if a flight away placed limitations on your baggage (and unfortunately your presents), this could also be a great way to meet up with people you wouldn’t see over the main Christmas period. Having a present-giving session before or after your holiday would only make the treats last longer. 

Holidaying at Christmas would also be a great opportunity to escape any grim weather at home if where you lived was cold, dark, and often wet at this time of year. If you’re a fan of the sun and some longer days, going away over late December would be a perfect chance to enjoy some winter sun or warmer weather. Instead, if you’re a fan of white Christmases and picturesque places, you may want to head somewhere with guaranteed snow for the ultimate winter wonderland. Whether it’s a beach or snow-covered villages you fancy, going on holiday over Christmas could be the perfect time to find this. Although it can be hard to break the routines and step away from tradition over Christmas, going away somewhere new (even if not abroad) could make it special, more memorable and unique. For Christmases to come, consider taking a break from the usual celebrations at home, and embrace the chance to visit a place you’ve always wanted to go. You never know, going somewhere new at Christmas may even become a new tradition.


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