Blog, Destinations, Travel Tips

December 28, 2023

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Christmas and New Year is the most magical time of the year. No matter how old you are, you are always looking for this special Christmas atmosphere, waiting for the festive day and choosing the best gifts to the dearest people.

MeetnGreetMe has prepared a list of top places where to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2018! All based on our customers’ preferences, wishes, and goals.

USA, New York

Christmas traditions

The United States of America has many different traditions to celebrate Christmas because of its multi-cultural nature. The traditional meal for the majority of families is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Many Americans will go to Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The majority of churches have special Christmas Carol services and events where the story of Christmas is told.

The decoration is very peculiar in the USA. To decorate a Christmas Tree, some Americans use pop-corn threaded on a string. The outsides of their houses are decorated with lights and sometimes even statues of Santa Claus, Snowmen, and Reindeer. Sometimes Americans leave some cookies and a glass of milk as a snack for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve! The streets are beautifully decorated with lights. One of the most famous Christmas street lights in the USA are at the Rockefeller Center in New York where there is a huge Christmas Tree with a public ice skating rink in front of it over Christmas and the New Year.

New Year in New York

Photo by Peter Stevens on Flickr

In New York, the celebration is everywhere but it’s in Times Square that everything is happening. Arrive at the Times Square in advance to have a convenient spot to see everything and don’t miss the famous fireworks. More than 1 million people will be sharing the New Year by your side in Times Square, so be ready to handle the crowd.

Every hour we celebrate New Year somewhere around the world. And every hour a small party is organized in Times Square to pass time. Enjoy the fireworks and the Ball Drop at midnight, we bet you will remember this experience for years!

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Russia, Moscow

New Year traditions

In the days of the Soviet Union, Christmas was not celebrated very much. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, people were free to celebrate Christmas again. But it’s still a quieter and smaller holiday in Russia after the big New Year celebrations.

New Year main characters are ‘Grandfather Frost’ (known in Russian as ‘Ded Moroz’) always accompanied by his Grandaughter Snegurochka. Together they bring presents to children. On New Year’s eve children hold hands, make a circle around the Christmas tree and call for Snegurochka or Ded Moroz. When they appear the star and other lights on the Christmas tree light up!

What to do

Moscow is very beautifully decorated for Christmas and New Year. Spend some time walking along the main avenues and squares and you will not regret it at all!

The most traditional way to celebrate New Year among Russians is to have a party at home with your family and a tableful after listening to the President’s speech aired on TV at midnight. If you prefer more active celebrations, head for the main Moscow ice skating rink in the Red Square (next to GUM store).

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Japan, Tokyo

Christmas in Japan

Christmas has only been widely celebrated in Japan for the last few decades. In Japan, Christmas is considered to be more of a time to spread joy. Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend time together and exchange presents. Young couples go for walks to admire the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant, that’s why booking a table on Christmas Eve can be difficult.

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance! There was an advertising campaign by KFC in 1974 called ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’ which was very successful and made KFC popular for Christmas.

Celebrate New Year in Tokyo

Photo by Manish Prabhune on Flickr

For Japanese people, New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year. On New Year families gather to feast and visit their local temples and shrines to pray for good fortune in the coming year. Unless you’re lucky enough to have friends in Tokyo, it will be tough to join such a feast, but you can sample the special Japanese New Year’s cuisine, known as o-sechi ryori, by stopping by one of the department stores and purchasing a ready-made assortment that you can eat at your lodgings.

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Hungary, Budapest

In Hungary, Christmas Eve is a very important day and is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. Hungarians spend this evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree without the children, so when children come in and see the tree, it’s a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them!

New Year in Budapest

New Year in Budapest offers a wide choice of parties, special New Year menus in the hundreds of restaurants, street parties, various concerts, and of course cruises on the Danube river.

New Year parties in Budapest focus on 3 major hot spots in the city, downtown Budapest: Vorosmarty Square, Oktogon Sq (by Andrassy Ave) and Eiffel Square at the Nyugati Train Station. Usually, these places get crowded at around 11 pm. You don’t need to pay for entering the street parties.

At midnight, the cheering crowds turn into the solemn mood in Budapest for 2 min. Instead of loud cheers, laughs, jumping around, and big hugging, Hungarians sing their national anthem with much dignity.

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These were popular answers to the question Where do you want to spend this Christmas and New Year? which we asked our customers. however, there was an answer which was the most popular: “with my family and friends”. And this is the loveliest answer which could be given to this question. Because the only thing which matters is the people you are surrounded by.

We wish you an amazing New Year celebrated with the dearest people, no matter where! And if you decide to travel abroad, don’t forget that local people on MeetnGreetMe are always glad to help with your trip.

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