We’ve been hearing from people looking for last-minute holiday getaway ideas. Of course, the most popular destinations fill up the fastest, but we canvased our destinations and actually located some prime pockets of available space!
To get you in the mood, we thought that we’d share some holiday traditions.
Christmas in Ecuador: A traditional Christmas day celebration in Ecuador is a day of colorful processions as the Indians who live and work in the highlands and mountains dress in their finest and ride their brightly arrayed llamas down to their employer’s ranches such as the Hacienda Zuleta. They bring gifts of fruit and produce, which they lay before the image of the Christ manger scene, which is set up in the ranch house. Children also bring their gifts and make pretty speeches to the Holy Infant, asking blessings for their family and their animals. There is a lot of celebrating, singing and dancing outdoors. The owner of the ranch distributes gifts to all his employees and their families. The huge meal includes roast lamb, baked potatoes and brown sugar bread.
New Year in Peru: One of Peru’s most famous New Year’s rituals grapes – 12 grapes should be eaten during the final countdown and people make one wish for every grape they eat. Six of the grapes should be green and six should be purple. Another popular New Year tradition in Peru is the use of yellow underwear: according to the local people, the yellow underwear attracts positive energy for the coming year. And according to the tradition, you have to wear it inside out, and then change it back immediately after midnight!
Tanzania Christmas: While Christmas is not celebrated throughout the country, it is in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital and largest city. The city’s Catholic Church is decorated with flowers and votive candles. It offers a special midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The malls and offices are decorated with lights and a Christmas tree is placed in public view. Over the Christmas holidays, locals also go out at night to amusements parks, musical gatherings and theatre shows in the local community.
New Year in India: India is mainly Hindu and Moslem, so there is no official celebration of Christmas. However, this time of year is looked upon as an appropriate time for gift-giving and tipping or giving “baksheesh,” charitable hand-outs to the poor of the country. Christians in India decorate mango or banana trees at Christmas time. Sometimes they also decorate their houses with mango leaves. In some parts of India, small clay oil-burning lamps are used as Christmas decorations; they are placed on the edges of flat roofs and on the tops of walls. Churches are decorated with poinsettias and lit with candles for the Christmas Even service.
Thailand Christmas: In Bangkok, Thailand’s holiday tree at the national museum is decorated with cloth dolls dressed to represent the different cultures found in Thailand. A map of the country and the Thailand national flag also adorn the tree. In Thailand, 99 percent of the population is Buddhist so Christmas is not considered an official holiday in the country, except by the small number of Christian schools, businesses and churches. In the larger cities, however, one can now see much evidence of the secular “holiday spirit” in December. Department stores and city streets are adorned with brightly colored artificial pine trees (as large pine trees don’t grow in Thailand), images of Santa Claus and Rudolph, and more. Familiar western carols can be heard in crowded shops. Many Buddhist Thais choose to celebrate Christmastime not as a religious event, but simply as a chance to gather with friends and family and deliver gifts and best wishes for the coming year.