If you’re tired of being cooped up inside the house, listening to another round of Jingle Bells on Christmas day, maybe it’s time to pack up the family and go somewhere more exotic. Maybe your family members are spread out across the country and have to travel to see you anyway.

Perhaps the same old Christmas tradition needs revamping. Whatever the reason, think about going somewhere that celebrates Christmas a little differently and maybe start a new family tradition this year.

Paradise Cove luau

Paradise Cove luau, Hawaii

Hawaii

Although you might not think of sand and surf when you think of Santa, Hawaiian locals do.  Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian) wishes are everywhere, from the holiday luaus with swaying dancers and the beat of the drums, to local nativity plays and performing children’s choirs.

There’s nothing quite as beautiful as the sound of Hawaiian harmonies set against the steel blue sky and gently lapping waves of the island ‘s shores. The weather is temperate during the holiday season, and swimming in the ocean is a nice luxury you wouldn’t normally be able to experience in most places in December.

For Christmastime, Honolulu is decked out in thousands of lights, and you can take a trolley tour around the city to gaze at the decorations. The best part is that you don’t need blankets, hats or gloves. If you hang out at Waikiki Beach long enough, you might even get to see Santa paddle up in an outrigger canoe. Up “mauka” (on the mountain slopes) of the outer islands there are whole neighborhoods that deck their homes from head to toe–and with few, if any, street lights there is a special glow to them that warms your heart.  The aloha spirit and holiday good cheer will just weave its way into your hearts.

Christmas on the Road - Leicestershire England

Leicestershire, England

England

Remember the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future? Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is one of the most popular holiday classics, and walking the streets of London in December will elicit images of Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge and bring Charles Dicken’s stories to life.

At Christmastime, the streets and stores of London are brimming with Christmas spirit and the charm and history will give you an experience to remember all your life.

Spain

In Spain, the nativity scene is larger than life. Groups of local families, students and office workers put together intricate scenes that recreate the birth of Jesus. Whether you are in a small, rural village or a large city, you will come upon these complex and magical scenes that remind you of the history of Christmas.

In Arcos de la Frontera, in southern Spain, the townspeople wear costumes and recreate the story of the nativity.

Christmas on the Road - Goslar Christmas Market

Goslar Christmas Market, Germany

Germany

The spirit of the holidays fills the air during the winter months in Germany. Most cities and towns in this beautiful country hold Christmas markets that run from the last week in November until a few days before Christmas.

At these markets, booths line the sidewalks, and Christmas music, twinkling lights, festive holly and green garlands abound. Vendors sell everything from nutcrackers to mulled wine.

These markets are not just your typical mass of peddlers hawking their goods; they transform the cities into a wonderland of celebration just in time for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Christmas on the Road - Washington D.C

Washington D.C., a Capitol Christmas

 Washington, D.C.

During the holidays, the capital of the United States is filled with Christmas trees. Across the street from the White House stands a veritable grove of decorated trees—one for each U.S. state and territory.

In the center is a huge, beautifully decorated Christmas tree that stands over a model train set and nativity scene. Choirs sing Christmas songs while you wander around the trees.

Another large tree stands on the lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol building. The tree is donated by a different city every year, and the children of the state that donated the tree make the ornaments that decorate the tree.

If you spend Christmas away from home this year, you won’t miss your Christmas customs because you’ll be part of so many new ones. Whether you’re sipping hot chocolate at a Christmas market or greeting Santa with the surfers, you’ll make new memories and perhaps start a new tradition.

Mary Thomas the author of the “Christmas on the road – A new tradition?” is an avid traveler who has experienced the holidays in many areas of the world.

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