Christmas: Why Europe Does it Better

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I’ll be honest: Christmas has never been my favourite holiday. I don’t like crowds; I don’t like carols; I don’t like tacky lawn decorations. Here in the Southern Hemisphere it feels like we are trying too hard. The White Christmases we grow up watching on childhood favourites like Home Alone in no way reflect the scorching summer barbeques that epitomise the Australian Christmas. And how does Santa not die of heatstroke delivering presents to every Australian child in 40-degree heat? It’s just all wrong.

After spending the holiday season in Europe last year, I realised that it’s not Christmas that I dislike; it’s just the Australian Christmas. The European festive season transformed me from The Grinch into Cindy Lou Who. And so, in the holiday spirit, I present my top 10 reasons why Europe does Christmas better. And why you should venture over there and experience the festive season the way it should be experienced.

Snow

Need I say more? You haven’t had a Christmas until you’ve had a White Christmas. It gives you an excuse to bundle up in layers and wear scarves and gloves and beanies and…

Christmas sweaters

Ah, the Ugly Christmas Sweater. Who can forget Colin Firth’s hideous number in Bridget Jones’ Diary? And it doesn’t stop at the sweaters. Europe is full of ugly Christmas scarves, beanies, socks, gloves… And the tackier the better.

Lights

I’m not talking about competitive house-decoration. Every city in Europe gets into the festive spirit by adorning its streets with Christmas lights. It’s like walking through a magical Christmas wonderland.

Trees

Massive trees. In every town square. And not the trees that look like they belong in MoMA. Actual trees!

Carols

As previously stated, I hate Christmas carols. But for those of you who are more tolerant of groups of schoolchildren singing songs of snow and bells and reindeer with red noses, Europe is for you!

Christmas markets

These are possibly the best part of a European Christmas. There’s nothing like bundling up and walking through the Christmas markets at night, eating everything on offer and buying tacky ornaments.

Ice-skating

Outdoor ice-skating. At night.

Food

So much food. Enough to render you in a coma until New Years.

Tradition

Every country has its own Christmas traditions. Although many places are becoming increasingly Westernized, it was nice to learn that some still hold on to local traditions and that not everywhere has been corrupted by corporate materialism and greed.

Christmas spirit

Everything on this list contributes to something that I’d never experienced in Australia: Christmas spirit. Go out and find it.

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