Christmas and New Year in different countries: gifts, fun, police and more ...

It's no secret that Christmas and New Year are celebrated in different ways in different countries. For our tourists, these features may be unexpected and even cause problems and disruptions in travel plans or stay in the country.

According to statistics, the percentage of applications related to administrative offenses abroad during the New Year holidays increases five times in relation to any other period of the year! And ignorance of local traditions, concerning even such trifles as presenting New Year's gifts, can turn into embarrassment and misunderstanding on the part of local residents.

We present to your attention a short overview that should be considered when traveling in winter to some countries.

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Santa Claus lives in Lapland (although the Greenlanders disagree) and the Finns are proud of that. And they earn money on this, attracting tourists to the country. Tourists should not relax too actively – the local police, even on such dates, are on the alert and severely fines and punish for drunk driving. The patrol can appear anywhere, not only on the road and controls not only car drivers, but also the drivers of snowmobiles popular in Finland. The punishment for driving a snowmobile under the influence even off public roads is very severe – imprisonment for 30 days plus a fine of several hundred Euros. Some tourists, unfortunately, have experienced the strictness of local legislation.


As in other Scandinavian countries, locals do not like to perform feats of labor in the name of a salary or career, and on Christmas Eve no bonuses can make them work. Domestic flights in Sweden are reduced to a minimum, ticket offices close earlier, only trains run on schedule, and at this time many people need to get home. For Swedes, Christmas is primarily a family holiday. Children visit their parents, even if they have been living abroad or on the other side of the country for a long time.

How do they solve the transport problem? It's just that the Swedes plan their life in general (and travel in particular) in advance and buy tickets about a year before Christmas. However, other tourists may find themselves without tickets, especially if they cannot use ticket machines or book online, which usually requires knowledge of such systems and possession of a credit card.


Scandinavian presentations are not too original, their value clearly depends on the degree of friendship or kinship. Among the gifts, as a rule, sports equipment, household utensils and ... the notorious "Aqua vitae" (Aquavita) – vodka that crossed the equator – are in the lead. This is understandable: in connection with the state monopoly on alcohol and exorbitant local prices for strong drinks, any Norwegian will be pleased with such a gift.

The police here, as in Sweden and Finland, do not sleep and have a typical Scandinavian stubbornness: if they recommend doing something to a prankster company (usually go to a hotel or home), it is better not to flatter yourself with their polite tone and just promise, but do everything verbatim ... After all, they have a characteristic habit of unobtrusively monitoring how their orders are being carried out.


In this country, they also like to celebrate Christmas and New Year and prepare for these events in advance. Despite the fact that the way of life and traditions of the Swiss for centuries consisted of a mixture of national characteristics of neighboring France, Germany and Italy, today they have a pronounced national flavor. One of the main rules of social life is not to do anything that can cause inconvenience or trouble for neighbors and others.

Even celebrating the birthday of household members, and inviting guests to his house, the Swiss will not forget to hang a polite warning for neighbors on the door of his condominium a week before the event, such as: "Dear sirs, on this date we will celebrate a family celebration from 18:00 to 21:00. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause." Be sure that the holiday will end on time, and will not be accompanied by loud music and stamping of feet. Such are the Swiss – their understanding of personal freedom never runs counter to the freedom of others.

Therefore, it is here that one should remember that noise and loud fun even on New Year's Eve may be a violation of the law. And launching firecrackers in the city violates not only fire safety rules. Remnants of fireworks falling to the ground can be regarded as debris thrown on the pavement, for which the culprit is entitled to an impressive fine.

Germany, Austria

Ever since the beginning of December (December 5 – St. Nicholas Day), terrible figures in skins, masks, with goat's horns on their heads walk the streets of many alpine towns in Austria and Germany. They rattle with iron chains, rattle balls with scrap metal inside, scream and dance in the streets. But this is still half the battle – sometimes they attack passers-by, even break into bars, whip everyone with rods, butt with horns and even knock them to the ground! Complaining about them is useless – they just follow their negative image. According to legend, these are the evil spirits Krampus (Krampus), who were expelled by the local Saint Nicholas, who sometimes also majestically participates in the procession. Some consider the Krampus servants of Santa Claus – they can be met at Christmas, but in a pleasant mood and in a different role – they reward obedient children with gifts.

For those who like to "download the rights", communicating with law enforcement officers, we remind you that the German policeman is perhaps one of the most severe in the world. For the slightest argument with him, you can get a charge of disrespect for the police, which threatens the most serious troubles.

Great Britain, Ireland

For the "islanders" Christmas and New Year are primarily family holidays, which are usually celebrated in the family circle. Only the closest friends and relatives have a chance to get to the festive dinner, who sometimes get together only once a year. If you are invited, do not forget to bring gifts for the owners of the house. Keep in mind that they must be humble enough or you will be misunderstood. Anything from the category of New Year's souvenirs, in many sold at holiday sales. If the trinket comes from your country, so much the better.

In general, Christmas sales for the British and Irish are one of the most anticipated events of the year. They even save money on purpose. Of course, in an effort to coincide with Christmas shopping, most locals make them before December 25th.

For tourists, it is important to know that the main discounts come after the New Year. In January, they reach 50% and even 75% in relation to the start of sales. That is why the most literate "buyers" from tourists come to London after the holiday. If you find yourself in England or Ireland directly on Christmas, and you do not want to celebrate it at the hotel, do not be lazy to choose a bar or restaurant for a festive night and find out if it will work the day before! To the disappointment of tourists, many entertainment establishments are locked. Bartenders are people too, and they have their own families.


The holiday of Christmas in Catholic Italy has always been a religious and family holiday. For many, it remains that way. But modern youth in Italy is also making adjustments to the old holiday and celebrating Christmas in their own way, often outside the family.

Since Italy is famous for its high road traffic hazards for many reasons, be careful. The peak of accidents in the country falls at 3-4 o'clock in the morning, when hot drivers return from nightclubs. Christmas in this sense is also no exception, rather the opposite.


While in this country, you should remember about its Muslim traditions. The mention of Jesus Christ even on Christmas Day can be misunderstood by others. Most likely, such things will not be perceived as a serious insult, but there were cases of misunderstanding that led to conflicts with local residents. It should be remembered that in such a situation, the law will not be on the side of tourists


Christmas is not officially celebrated in Japan, although the sale of New Year's decorations begins at the end of November, and Christmas trees are installed. On New Year's Eve, the Japanese themselves give each other a special handicraft – a Darumu doll made of wood or papier-mâché, which has neither arms nor legs. The toy is a reminder of the Buddhist monk Bodai-Daruma, who lived many centuries ago, who, having retired to a cave, spent nine years in continuous meditation, as a result of which his arms and legs were taken away. Having received a Daruma doll as a gift, the Japanese makes a wish and draws one eye for her. If within a year the wish is fulfilled, the doll receives a second eye, and if not, so much the worse for the toy! The next New Year, the old Daruma is burned at the stake and new wishes are made.


Unlike the British, Americans love to give and receive expensive gifts, and Christmas is no exception. Therefore, a present worth several hundred dollars for your American friend or partner may seem very welcome. It is only necessary to take into account one national peculiarity – it is often customary to give gifts with a check. This is done so that it can be returned to the store if it doesn't like it or doesn't fit. In January, in some stores there are even queues of returning goods.

As you celebrate winter holidays in America, keep in mind that local police are also aware of the hottest time of the year on the freeways. According to statistics, more drunk driving subpoenas are issued on Christmas and New Year's evenings and nights than in two regular months. Despite the fact that the police are given the right to determine "by eye" the degree of drunkenness on the road using a special method, your inability to communicate with an officer because of bad English can only increase his doubts about your adequacy. Therefore, do not drink alcohol before the trip, if you do not want to end up in an American court immediately after the holidays.

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Often, tourists away from their homeland like to walk noisily and show off, especially when Christmas and New Year are the occasion. While abroad, it should be remembered that in Europe, and in the New World, and in the so beloved Egypt, and in Asia, such displays of fun are treated with understanding until they begin to interfere with others. In many countries, winter holidays are celebrated quietly, in a family circle. Even the traditional fun of launching fireworks into the night sky, accompanied by drinking champagne in the fresh air, can turn into an unpleasant trial at the police station.

Law is law, rules are rules. Do not forget about this, and then the New Year holidays spent in any country will leave only the most pleasant memories!

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