Whether Christmas is best celebrated in a warm climate or cold climate is a topic often discussed by travellers. The opinions of most tend to depend heavily upon where that traveller was raised. It is understandable that Christmas to an Aussie will mean barbecues and beaches, whereas Christmas to a Brit will be significantly colder. Those lucky enough to hail from the colder climes of Canada or Scandinavia will be most familiar with a White Christmas.
I grew up with Victorian images of woollen-clad skaters gliding over frozen waters on my Christmas cards, and despite never seeing this in the UK, I was programmed to associate Christmas with snow and ice, and a dinner table ladened with a huge turkey and all the trimmings.
So my first Christmas in a hot country was a shock. Excited about spending Christmas in Vietnam, I went to buy my Christmas tree in early December. The scorching sun beat down as I dragged the fully decorated tree down the street, and I was thankful to be wearing shorts and a vest-top. Turning my air conditioning down to a chilly 16°, I decorated the tree while wearing a snuggly sweater and socks. It almost felt like Christmas.
Christmas Day was spent on a sun lounger at the beach, and I was too hot to eat a cooked dinner so instead I enjoyed an omelette and salad.
The next two Christmases were spent in the much the same way, in Thailand and Cambodia respectively. I enjoyed a fourth hot Christmas last year in Colombia.
Even though there was a tree and tinsel, a huge roast turkey dinner, and people pulling crackers – it didn’t feel like Christmas to me. Maybe it was because Santa wore hot pants?
One of my favourite Christmases was my first year in Sweden. The snow had been falling since October so all my Christmas shopping had taken place in Christmas markets, where I had taken frequent breaks to drink glögg (mulled wine) and warm my hands on the open fires that surrounded the stalls. When I got back to the UK the snow continued to sweep across Europe, this time bringing a very rare White Christmas (the first and only that I have ever seen) to Britain.
I sat down at a table laden with turkey and all the trimmings. Snow fell gently outside the window, and I was surrounded by family. I spent the day in snuggly warm jumpers, thick socks and watching Christmas movies under a blanket.
It felt like Christmas.
For me, at least, Christmas is best celebrated in cold climates surrounded by hot food and my lovely family.
Do you prefer to celebrate Christmas in warm or cold climates?