The celebration of Christmas in the Lunigiana region of northern Tuscany, where I spend a good part of the year, has become a bit commercial over the years, and yet traditions like Presepe Vivente, living nativity scenes, and Natale Subacqueo, or "underwater Christmas" are still part of a long history of Christmas celebration in Northern Tuscany.
Since Christmas is, first and foremost a tradition involving family and friends, what follows is a survey of the rich and varied Christmas experiences written by the About family, my friends and cohorts.
Christmas Traditions in Italy
What's it like to be in Italy for Christmas? Martha Bakerjian tells you in Christmas in Italy - Italian Christmas Celebrations and Traditions.
The traditional Italian Seven-Fish Christmas Eve dinner and other Italian holiday meals are covered by Kyle Phillips, our guide to Italian cuisine. Kyle also does Christmas in Tuscany. A quick survey of Christmas in Italy for the traveler is found over at Italy Online.
German Christmas Traditions
Birge Amondson maps out the major German Christmas Traditions you'll want to know about.
Hyde Flippo takes on A German Christmas as it relates to the German language. Did you know that the Christmas tree, or Tannenbaum, first made its literary appearance in 1605 in a chronicle out of Strasbourg in Alsace, then a part of Germany? Well, you do now.
Christmas Markets are all the rage in Germany. You'll want to see them if you plan a trip. Germany for Visitors guide Birge Amondson has the topic covered in German Christmas Markets in Germany. Got kids? Travel with Kids guide Teresa Plowright tells of the tradition of German Christmas Markets.
Switzerland Christmas Markets
Is there a better background for Christmas than the Swiss Alps? Switzerland's Christmas Markets don't go back in history as far as Germany's, but they've become very popular. Read about the best: Switzerland's Best Christmas Markets and Winter Celebrations.
Portugal Christmas Traditions and Celebrations
Austria and "Silent Night"
One of our favorite Christmas songs comes from Austria. Silent Night or "Stille Nacht" is sung the world over, although it's sung a bit differently than the piece Franz Gruber had originally written. You'll find the fascinating story over at The German Way's "Silent Night Page.
Christmas in France
Laura Lawless gives you the skinny on French Christmas Customs and Traditions. (Bet you didn't know that: "In 1962, a law was passed decreeing that all letters written to Santa would responded to with a postcard. When a class writes a letter, each student gets a response.")
Kelby tells you all about Christmas and Christmas Markets in France.
Christmas in the UK
Ferne Arfin leads you to the Best Christmas Markets of in the UK. We'll call on Bernd Biege to tell us about The Irish Twelve Days of Christmas. Finally, Travel with Kids guide Teresa Plowright advises you on the best of London Christmas, with or without kids.
Christmas in Greece
Hey, that Santa guy, Saint Nick you call him, short for Saint Nicolas. Could Santa be Greek? deTraci Rugula also takes on Christmas Customs of Greece as well. In fact, she's written so much on Christmas in Greece that she's got a whole list of articles.
Scandinavian Christmas Traditions
The countries of Scandinavia are loaded with Christmas goodies. See a country by country account of Christmas traditions from Scandinavia for Visitors guide Terri Mapes.
Christmas in Spain
Interested in taking a little trip to Spain for Christmas? Spain for Visitors guide Damian Corrigan has a gift for you, a comprehensive guide to celebrations and traditions in Spain: Christmas in Spain