‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know,’ sang Bing Crosby in 1942.
The world’s most popular Christmas song (and biggest selling single of all time, at 50 million copies to date) encapsulates what many of us think of as a classic Christmas scene. Watch any Christmas film and you’ll likely see at least one snowy vista (often saved for the oh-so-festive climax), while white is a common colour for Christmas cards.
Even in the UK a white Christmas is a little bit of a stretch, but what about those countries where Christmas actually falls in the summer?
When Christmas falls in a season of shorts and sandals, cold drinks and al fresco dining, is it harder to get into the festive spirit? Here we take a quick look at some of the Christmassy things which happen in countries where you don’t need an open fire to roast your chestnuts.
While going for a Christmas Day swim is a tradition in several parts of the UK, where daring individuals take a dip in the ice cold waters, we don’t have anything quite like the mass exodus to Sydney’s Bondi Beach which happens on the 25th. Up to 40,000 people hit the sands – it’s the middle of their summer holiday, after all – for a day of swimming, sunbathing and barbecuing. It makes us even guiltier about that post-Christmas dinner snooze to think that our Australian counterparts spend their afternoon playing volleyball, surfing and being generally energetic.
‘Shall we eat Christmas dinner outside?’ said no one ever in the UK. It’s often raining here, so there’s a very good chance your Christmas goose or duck would be able to swim away. The day would be a disaster, unless you’d had the foresight to buy crackers containing gifts like wellies, cagoules, or inflatable life rafts. Of course, in South Africa al fresco dining makes perfect sense. It’s the middle of summer, so the landscape is full of life and you can enjoy a delicious meal in the sunshine.
Keeping fireworks dry enough to light in November can be a tough task in Blighty, but in Mexico the weather is more than suited to a display after midnight mass on Buena Noche (Christmas Eve). In some parts of the country there are also candlelit processions during the first eight nights of las posadas, the Mexican Christmas festival. Children in costume carry figures of Mary and Joseph from house to house, seeking shelter. Mexicans also often decorate their communities with candle lanterns made from brown paper bags, which would be reduced to a soggy mess within seconds over here but are entirely safe in a country where December enjoys high temperatures of around 28⁰C.
Camels are actually quite Christmassy, with many a festive scene depicting them as the trusty mounts of the three wise men who came to visit the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh in a time before Playstations and Lynx gift sets. You won’t see many volcanoes in your traditional nativity play, though, which is where your camel ride in Lanzarote will start to diverge from the classic yuletide vibe. Even though Lanzarote isn’t the warmest place on this list during December, the fact that you can go exploring on a camel makes it worthy of a mention.
While we’re all aware that each culture celebrates Christmas in its own way, it can be harder to grasp the fact that what we consider to be traditional festive weather isn’t the same across the globe. Most of us grow up being surrounded by images of snow and winter, so it’s hardly surprising that the thought of a summery Christmas can be hard to picture. But the winter setting is just one part of the magic of Christmas so there’s no reason why your festive season will be any less joyful if you find yourself swapping your scarf for sun cream.
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