Christmas is Christmas, everywhere the same, right? Wrong! We asked Hostelsclub staff to speak a little bit about their own Christmas traditions and turns out that food is not the only difference...

1. Portugal (Lisbon - Ana Lúcia)

Portuguese Christmas table

Traditions vary according to the regions and each family has their own! In my case, we join together for dinner on Christmas Eve and have several dishes and desserts. The first two dishes are of codfish: boiled codfish with potatoes and also codfish with vegetables, eggs and potatoes prepared in the oven. We also eat meat: turkey with chestnuts and rice. And we finish with some typical desserts: "cuscurões", "filhoses" and "rabanadas". At midnight we exchange presents. We meet the next day again and we go to the church, followed by Christmas lunch and exchange of presents with the part of the family we haven't met the day before.

Lisbon

Image from the website: loranviaggi.it

Most of the cities in the country get decorated with christmas lights during the winter months! I belive it's a great opportunity to visit Lisbon, as the capital gets an extra shine and there's so many delicious christmas plates to try! Plus: escape the bad weather of your home country as in Lisbon it never gets very cold!

2. France (Paris - Aurélien)

In my country the food is very important in Christmas! We usually gather in my grandparent's house and have a very delicious meal all together. We start with the "Foie Gras", oysters, snails, and smoked salmon. For the main dish we have "Civet de Sanglier" (jugging of wild boar) and also turkey with chestnuts. Finally, for desert we eat the traditional "Bûche de Noël", the Yule Log. Children love a typical sweet called "Papillote" which is usually a small chocolate or fruit paste with a message rolled around, it can be a joke, a riddle and a citation or... a cracker snap! Of course, we also have a lot a cheese but not because it's Christmas, because it's France haha

Bûche de Noël

Picture from the website emicooks.com

If you want to visit France and try all these amazing dishes, plan a trip to Paris, where you will find one of the most famous Christmas Market: in Champs Elysée! There you will be able to do a lot of fun things (besides the food!) like ice skating or participate on a Christmas themed tour around the city of lights... this time of the year more lightened then in any other!

Christmas Market Champs Elysees

Image from the website: it.pinterest.com

You'll be able to find this kind of markets thoughout all France, we recommend Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Grenoble and Lille!

 

3. Italy (Venice - David/ Giulia)

I usually spend my Christmas in Venice and I believe it's a truly magical period: the city is calm, cold and shinny!

Venice during Christmas

Image from the website: venetoinside.com

The preparation for the big evening - the Christmas Eve, starts way before that day! Children write to Santa Claus and parents buy them a calendar with chocolates for the period before Christmas - the avvento! For the dinner of the 24th, we eat a soup of homemade tortellini and chicken with potatoes made on the oven. For dessert, "Pandoro" and "Penettone" and for adults, these cakes are eaten together with prosecco, the Italian champagne! 

Tortellini

Image from the website huffingtonpost.com

If you're considering to spend your Christmas in Venice, you can't miss the decorations in Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square (and you can assist to the religious service of Christmas Day in San Marco Basilica in Italian, English, French or German!) and if you're lucky, maybe Santa will pass by you in a Gondola! 

Santa in Venice

Image from Reuters // Manuel Silvestri

4. Spain (Valencia - Lidia)

In Spain we call Christmas Eve "La nochebuena", the good night! And it's a good night because of the food of course haha we eat shrimps, cohinillo relleno (roast suckling pig), lamb, cheese, ham (sure thing!) and a lot of desserts! Traditionally the exchange of presents is made during the Epiphany Day or Three Kings Day, however, nowadays we also do it in the morning of the 25th of December.

Christmas desserts Spain

Image of Nito / Shutterstock

Valencia is great to visit during Christmas because people are very exciting, singing Christmas songs on the streets and playing with bottles of "Anís El Mono" like it's a musical instrument haha. In Plaza del Ayutaimento you will find an ice skating ring and a beautiful Christmas tree. Moreover, as opposed to other countries, in Spain you can party during Christmas Eve! As a matter of fact all bares and clubs are opened from 12 until morning, as young people usually have dinner with their families and afterwards they go out with friends :)

Plaza del Ayutaimento

Image from the website thecultureclique.com

5. Croatia (Zagreb - Danijel)

In Croatia Christmas is celebrated during three important dates: St. Nicholas' Day, the 6th of December; St. Lucia's Day on the 13th of December and the Christmas day itself. St. Nicholas, leaves sweets on the boots of children who behaved well during the year, but careful, sticks will be left instead to the children who behaved bad!

St. Lucia was the responsible for bringing gifts to children in southern and north-eastern Croatia while the other children were receiving presents during St. Nicholas' Day, today all children receive gifts during the three dates! 

As regards the food, codfish and desserts for the dinner of the Christmas Eve and all kinds of meat on Christmas day!

Typical Croatian Codfish

Image from the website eurocafeaulait.hubpages.com

I really think you should visit Zagreb during December because of our Christmas Market, which was considered the best in Europe in 2016 and 2017! Advent is the most important time in the city and everyone is just happy, singing and dancing Christmas songs, both locals and tourists! There are events, exhibitions and parties for everyone. And it all lasts until the 8th of January! 

Christmas Market Zagreb (big)

Image from the website croatiaweek.com