Looking to do something different for the end of year holidays? UltraVilla experts from the four corners of the world share some unique festive traditions from their destinations which could have you catching your own Christmas meal, sitting down to table in Tuscany, passing some Santas on the Swiss Alps or joining in on religious processions in Mexico. It’s never an ordinary holiday thanks to the extraordinary expertise of our specialists!
Las Posadas – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
One of the prettiest towns in Mexico has its best Christmas tradition. On the nine days leading up to Christmas eve, the streets of this charming colonial city in the center of the country come to live with lively Posada processions. Our Mexico expert Pamela H. Murdock tells us more about this unique custom:
“On the nine nights leading up to Christmas Eve, Las Posadas (inns or shelters), begin with a procession that represents the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Candle-bearing residents sing Christmas carols as they walk, joined by “Mary” (usually riding a donkey) and “Joseph”. The parade weaves through the streets and participant knock on house doors while singing the traditional Posada Song, “Pidiendo Posada,”(Begging for Shelter). Nevertheless, they’re turned away because there is “no room at the inn.” “After all, sings the household, you might be a rogue.” Eventually, they find an open door. Here, everyone is given food and hot drinks while the children play at piñatas until they break and spill candy everywhere. A good time is truly had by all.”
Complete your enchanting end of year holidays in San Miguel de Allende by staying at the historic Quinta Quebrada. This gorgeous historic home is hidden behind high walls in the heart of town, the perfect base for a family trip to this beautiful destination. Find out more about it through Pamela H. Murdock here.
Santa Arriving …. By Boat? St Tropez, France
It’s not surprising that glamorous St-Tropez celebrates Christmas with pizzazz and with a particularly original holiday custom, revealed to us by our local expert Anne-Claire. Santa doesn’t arrive at this port town on his usual sleigh… he cruises in by boat!
An eagerly awaiting crowd gathers on the Quai de Suffren at 6 pm on December 24th to welcome Father Christmas. The excitement rises as a large boat approaches the dock, aboard which is the enthusiastic special guest. The decorated boat shoots off fireworks which add to the vibrant scene, the buildings of the port already colorfully lit up for the season.
Once on land, Père Noel hops on a small train to escort the town’s children to Place de la Garonne where he gives out presents and candy… only to those who’ve been nice of course!
Experience the lovely holiday magic of St-Tropez by staying at Villa Glamour by Villas Prestige et Services. Anne-Claire Conraud and her team can also arrange for the villa to be prepared with holiday decorations and can even have “Santa” come straight to the villa on Christmas Eve carrying a bag full of gifts!
Tuscan Traditions at the Borgo Finocchieto – Italy
The festive season is the perfect time to be in Tuscany, celebrated in style at the Borgo Finocchieto. According to Pascale Queriot of the Borgo, the private hamlet provides the ultimate concept of luxury: freedom.
“Guests feel at home with an extremely discreet 5-star luxury service,” details Pascale. “There’s no dress code, no constrictions… they are free to enjoy their day as they want, no need to dress up for lunch and dinner, they can walk barefoot in the grass with a glass of wine, have exactly the meal they are craving prepared by our chef.”
The Borgo is just about to start preparing for the holidays. Christmas traditions in Italy start with decorating homes on December 8th which is the celebration of the Immaculate Conception. Today this includes a Christmas tree, however, in the past this was mainly in the form of presepi (nativity scenes). In fact, in Naples there is a whole street with just presepi! Once decorated, the Borgo’s staff gradually works towards the special menus for Christmas Eve and Day, as described by Pascale:
“On Christmas Eve no meat is to supposed to be eaten, the meal is meant to be light and include fish only. On the 25th lunch there is a huge substantial lunch shared by the whole family and children open their gifts. Midnight mass on the 24th is very important as well. the streets in Italy are completely empty during Christmas. People go out from their homes on the afternoon of the 25th to take a stroll to help digest!”
Enjoy a true Italian Christmas at the Borgo Finocchieto or share a special moment by gathering friends or family here at another time of year. Learn more about this unique villa complex here.
Catching your own Christmas Dinner – Queenstown, New Zealand
Just because it’s warm and sunny in the southern hemisphere for the holiday season, it doesn’t mean that it’s lacking the festive spirit! Our experts at MajorDomo tell us what Christmas could entail down on the South Island.
“A sunny summer Christmas in New Zealand might see you start (and keep) some new Christmas Traditions which will leave you with long and lasting happy yuletide memories,” starts Fiona Stevens, co-founder and director of MajorDomo.
“Picture yourself waking up on Christmas morning in your luxury villa overlooking the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu in gorgeous Queenstown. The sun is streaming through the windows early as your in-house chef prepares a fresh and healthy breakfast to fuel you for the adventures to come. Father Christmas comes to New Zealand first on his travels and is sure to find all the little people in your party and their stockings hung by the fire.
“After breakfast around the table and gathering around the Christmas tree to open presents the adventures begin. Your private helicopter picks you up to soar you over the mountain tops, mountain lakes, glaciers, valleys, lakes and rivers, to a remote and wild West Coast beach where your guide dives for crayfish and paua – decadent and luxurious kiwi treats.
“On your way back to Queenstown, your helicopter will land atop a mountain where your guide will cook your fresh crayfish and paua accompanied by another Christmas tradition whitebait patties. It’d be rude not to pop a bottle of champagne at this point!
“After being dropped back at your villa, why not wander down to the lake to go late afternoon paddle boarding or kayaking to make room for a Christmas dinner feast. You may wish to have traditional Christmas fare of turkey, ham and goose or perhaps a lighter Pacific fusion style dinner.”
Don’t forget to pack your sunblock on this adventurous and exciting holiday to Zealand. Jump aboard the private helicopter with MajorDomo here.
Santa on the Slopes – Verbier, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps completely evoke the festive season, as such they attract masses of ski fans and from around the world at this time of year coming in search of cozy chalets in quaint mountain towns, like Verbier. This posh resort definitely does Christmas right.
The town is decked out to the fullest. On Christmas Eve there is usually a lively street parade, a carol concert outside the Tourist Office and a theatrical arrival of Father Christmas or rather der Weihnachtsmann. The faithful can attend Christmas mass is at the church in the centre of town.
The great thing about Verbier on Christmas is the Christmas Day ski, the lifts are open… and if you didn’t catch Santa the night before… it’s likely that you’ll run into him on the slopes!
Enjoy the thrills and charm of a Swiss Christmas by staying at the gorgeous Chalet Merveille. This picture-perfect luxurious chalet is still available for the end of year holidays. You can preview it in this article or contact Marina Gratsos of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel at this link to book.
Still looking for holiday ideas for the end of year? Peruse our sunny destinations here and wintery villas and chalets here. The unique Isola Santa Cristina is already decorated for the holidays and ready to welcome guests! View some of these in the photo above or read the full story at this link.
Wishing you all a happy festive season from the team at UltraVilla!