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The three main meanings of christmas to most people around the world

World's top 10 best places to celebrate Christmas

Israel travel guide With today's emphasis on present grabbing and overindulging, it's hard to deny that the real meaning of Christmas often seems forgotten. For a refresher, nothing compares to a pilgrimage to Jesus' birthplace.

The jolly man in the red suit is this neighborhood's most famous resident, and round these parts they milk him for all he's worth.

Still, the deep wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests go a long way toward off setting the touristy atmosphere, though there's an amusement park called Santa Park not far from the village. You'll need deep pockets, but you'd have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile. By submitting your email you are agreeing to Fairfax Media's terms and conditions and privacy policy. Surely you know what Christmas in the Big Apple looks like, thanks to countless movies: Christmas lights, cheesy muzak, preferably a light dusting of snow.

Ice skating below it is a must for wintertime visitors, as is checking out the window displays in New York's largest department stores.

Bondi is the antithesis of northern-hemisphere Christmas cliches: Come 25 December the beach acts as a magnet for backpackers a long way from home, who celebrate alongside other "Christmas orphans.

Items you may not normally take to Christmas dinner: The Eternal City is magical at any time of year, but December has an extra frisson, with roasted chestnuts sold on every corner and the city awash with presepi nativity scenes - check them out on St Peter's Square, Piazza Navona, and in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill.

It's the Vatican that pulls the most pilgrims.

  1. You'll need deep pockets, but you'd have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile. On a tiered triangular stage covered in assorted greenery and fairy lights, a choir of local youngsters sweetly delivers Christmas carols.
  2. For a refresher, nothing compares to a pilgrimage to Jesus' birthplace. Surely you know what Christmas in the Big Apple looks like, thanks to countless movies.
  3. By submitting your email you are agreeing to Fairfax Media's terms and conditions and privacy policy. Bondi is the antithesis of northern-hemisphere Christmas cliches.

The most eyebrow-raising is a morning swim on the 25th at the Forty-Foot sea-water pool. In the lead-up to the big day there's life aplenty on Dublin's streets and the craic flows. There's the 12 Days of Christmas Market at the Docklands, cheesy pantos, Christmas lights, ice skating, and markets and seasonal cheer in Temple Bar.

Don't miss carols at St Patrick's Cathedral. Here, 180 stalls proffer toys, trinkets, candles, gingerbread and sweets to shoppers warmed by sizzling bratwurst and mulled wine. Visit after dark, when the colored lights create a fairy-tale spectacle. Christmas shopping never looked this enchanting. Zurich wins our vote for its oodles of Christmas markets don't miss the one inside the train stationguided Christmas-themed city strolls, and the enchanting all-singing Christmas tree that comes alive on Werdmuhleplatz.

On a tiered triangular stage covered in assorted greenery and fairy lights, a choir of local youngsters sweetly delivers Christmas carols. Traditionally, celebrating the New Year is more important in Japan than Christmas, but this is what happens when non-Christians embrace Christmas, and with gusto: While the lead-up is dazzling, Christmas Day itself is a fizzer as it's not a holiday.

  1. Surely you know what Christmas in the Big Apple looks like, thanks to countless movies. Ice skating below it is a must for wintertime visitors, as is checking out the window displays in New York's largest department stores.
  2. For season-setting decorations, head to City Hall on the Plaza de Armas and the fairy-lit promenade Paseo de la Princesa.
  3. Christmas lights, cheesy muzak, preferably a light dusting of snow. You'll need deep pockets, but you'd have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile.
  4. Zurich wins our vote for its oodles of Christmas markets don't miss the one inside the train station , guided Christmas-themed city strolls, and the enchanting all-singing Christmas tree that comes alive on Werdmuhleplatz. Still, the deep wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests go a long way toward off setting the touristy atmosphere, though there's an amusement park called Santa Park not far from the village.
  5. It's the Vatican that pulls the most pilgrims. For season-setting decorations, head to City Hall on the Plaza de Armas and the fairy-lit promenade Paseo de la Princesa.

Christmas Eve is the big deal, resembling Valentine's Day in activity -- a night for couples and romance. Feasting Japanese-style involves fried chicken followed by sponge cake topped with cream and strawberries. From mid-December churches conduct dawn masses rich with Christmas carols, while exuberant roving groups of carolers travel from house to house and make merry.

The big feast is held on Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass. For season-setting decorations, head to City Hall on the Plaza de Armas and the fairy-lit promenade Paseo de la Princesa.