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‘Tis the season

From snowy St Petersburg to sunny St Martin, the festive season is all about celebrating timeless traditions with loved ones. For a taste of virtual wanderlust, explore the interactive map below and unearth fascinating details about customs around the world.



Joyeuses Fêtes

Many pop-up markets serve mulled wine and sell home-made gifts. A feast takes place on ‘Le Réveillon’ (Christmas Eve). At the end of the season, many eat ‘Galette des rois,’ a traditional dessert with hidden figurines inside. Visit France


Buone Feste

Carolling is common, while houses often display a ‘presepi’, (nativity scene). The Christmas Day meal features antipasti, pasta, meats and, of course, panettone. A witch, La Befana, leaves gifts for children on 6 January. Visit Italy


Feliz Natal

23 December is ‘Market Night’, with many shopping in busy Funchal. Common dishes are ‘vinha d’alhos’, a meat stew with wine, and ‘bolo de mel’, a honey cake. A large firework display on New Year’s Eve rounds off festivities. Visit Madeira


счастливых каникул

A winter break in St Petersburg features many markets, concerts and grottos, often under a blanket of snow. Christmas is celebrated on 7 January: typical dishes are ‘kutia’ (boiled grains), roast pork and ‘sbiten,’ a hot drink. Visit Russia

United States

Happy Holidays

Families often adorn their houses with light-up decorations and drink ‘eggnog.’ Many celebrate the Jewish festival Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, which celebrates African and African American culture and history. Visit the United States


Masego a Keresemose

December in Botswana is a sunny affair. Many families sing carols together and attend church on Christmas Day. On the menu is Botswana’s national dish, ‘seswaa’, made with shredded beef or goat over maize porridge. Visit Botswana


Bon Nadal

Mallorquins feast on ‘Roscón de Reyes,’ a ring-shaped cake with a hidden figurine celebrating Epiphany. December is also the month of l’Estandart, which celebrates the arrival of King Jaime I in Palma. Visit Mallorca


ສະບາຍດີວັນພັກ ສຳ ລັບທ່ານ

In January, many Buddhists in Laos will celebrate Makhaboucha: when Buddha gave an impromptu speech to 1250 monks. After a morning ceremony there are grand parades, singing and a special grilled rice bread is shared out. Visit Laos


Happy Holidays / Selamat Hari Natal

Shopping malls are exquisitely decorated in December. The atmosphere is electric with events, such as the Marina Bay light show. Many eat ‘feng’ (pork stew), devil's curry and sugee cake. Visit Singapore

United Kingdom

Happy Christmas

Families send greeting cards to loved ones and often see a pantomime. Popularly eaten are mince pies (pies filled with spiced dried fruit), while Christmas is for roast turkey ‘and all the trimmings.' Visit the United Kingdon


Feliz Navidad

‘Las posadas’ (festive season) starts 12 December. Native to Mexico, the poinsettia flower is a common decoration. The main meal is on Christmas Eve, often with ‘pozole’ (pork and hominy stew), turkey and tamales. Visit Mexico

South Africa

Geseënde Kersfees

Flowers bloom in South Africa in December. Many head to the beach or mountains, while others celebrate the season at home or with neighbours. Families often roast a turkey, but a ‘braai’ (barbecue) is also popular. Visit South Africa


Feliz Natal

A ‘floating’ Christmas tree appears in Rio de Janeiro. Many festivities are influenced by Portuguese, African and Latin-American tradition. Many will eat a ‘chester’ chicken and ‘rabanda,’ a Brazilian-style French toast. Visit Brazil


Feliz Navidad

Families often attend mass on Christmas Eve, then head home to eat roast turkey and 'panetón.' Many houses have their own nativity scene, or ‘retablos:’ folk carvings and illustrations of religious events. Visit Peru

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Timeless Traditions

Discover a treasure trove of festive experiences with Belmond. From sensational private dinners to magical timeless train rides, create sparkling new memories with your loved ones.

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