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  • December 16th, 2015 by
    Christmas market

    We’re just round the corner from Christmas: crunch time. What with the frantic rush for last-minute presents, the massively overfilled shopping trolleys and the interminable Christmas music, it’s easy to get a little tired of it all before it’s even begun.

    So if you’re feeling the need to spice things up, why not draw on some of these quirky Christmas traditions from around the world to spice up your holidays? Or, even better, see if there are any cheap seasonal breaks. Well, it never hurts to check…

    1. Scotland: Christmas markets

    Christmas Day was banned in Scotland for some 400 years, so in relative terms it’s still something of a novelty. It only recently became a public holiday, in 1958.

    Perhaps because of this, Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve celebration, has traditionally been the most important winter celebration in Scotland. Nonetheless, Edinburgh has become famous for its now traditional Christmas markets, which are open from late November until Christmas Eve.

    2. Austria: where devils come to play

    Austria and Germany are home to one of the most bizarre, and terrifying, Christmas traditions: the Krampus. A devil-like horned creature, the Krampus is brought to life during the build-up to Christmas, when young men dress up in his likeness and parade through the streets of alpine towns in Austria and Bavaria. They have even been known to terrorise those who they suspect of misbehaving, threatening them with whips made of birch branches.

    3. Brazil: the home of the 350 ton floating Christmas tree

    While the 25th December is a national holiday, the 24th is the day when the celebrations really take place. People tuck into great food and share gifts, and it’s not unheard of to go to the beach (the weather can touch 100 degrees in December). It’s also common for fireworks to take place at this period, and there’s no better image than lights going off above the striking image of Rio’s 350 ton floating Christmas tree – the largest of its kind in the world.

    4. Estonia: saunas in the cold

    As with so many special occasions in Estonia, it’s only special if there’s a sauna involved. After doing the prep for the Christmas Eve celebrations, it’s traditional to head off for a sauna and a steam.

    devil and steam

    5. Iceland: the land of 13 trolls

    The Icelandic equivalent of Santa Claus is a group of 13 trolls; collectively know as the Yule Lads (or jólasveinarnir, in Icelandic). According to the country’s folklore, these figures descend from mountain-dwelling trolls and roam through the hills to terrify children who had not been good that year. Literally translated, their names read like the character list from a Disney movie gone wrong: “Bowl-licker”, “Doorway-sniffer”, “Stubby” and “Sausage swiper” are a selection.

    If you’re looking for a great evening out to really start your Christmas celebrations off with a bang, then why not join us here at Boisdale where our fabulous Christmas menus are sure to delight!