Holy Night, Kiev
As Orthodox Christians, Ukrainians have a good time Christmas on 7 January with a 12-dish feast referred to as Svyatyi Vechir (Holy Night). The evening earlier than, singers go from home to accommodate sporting vibrant embroidered garments and carrying the star of Bethlehem to symbolise the delivery of Jesus. The procession is usually accompanied by a conventional vertep (a conveyable wood puppet theatre that first appeared within the 17th century). I keep in mind the joys of collaborating within the carol singing after I was a toddler. I used to be commonly forged as an angel within the nativity performs on the streets of my hometown, Uzhhorod in western Ukraine. South of Kiev, the open-air Pyrohiv Museum of People Structure and Life showcases the traditions of Ukrainian Christmas amongst previous village homes and windmills. On 7 January the museum recreates a typical Ukrainian rural Christmas celebration with carols, meals tastings and a church service. For a extra city expertise, St Sophia’s Sq. in central Kiev holds a procession of Bethlehem stars.Pavlo Fedykovych
Le Réveillon, Paris

Choc tactic … conventional bûche de noël. {Photograph}: Martin Jacobs/Getty Photographs
Like most individuals dwelling in Paris, I begin my festive season with the réveillon, France’s conventional Christmas Eve dinner, which begins round 9pm and carries on into the early hours. Anybody visiting the town can simply be part of within the Christmas celebrations, as a result of markets and retailers keep open all day on 24 December, with most individuals, myself included, frenetically shopping for provisions for the night meal. This 12 months could also be totally different due to the gilets jaunes protests however whether or not they’ll disrupt the Christmas break stays to be seen. I reside close to the Bastille, so have a tendency to buy at Le Marché d’Aligre, a avenue and lined market that dates again to 1779. Fishmongers put together large plateaux de fruits de mer: oysters, crabs, prawns, mussels and whelks on a mound of crushed ice. There’ll be a protracted queue outdoors the cheesemonger – attempt the scrumptious creamy Mont d’Or – however luckily it has a pop-up bar serving craft beers. The bakery quickly sells out conventional bûche de Noël, a wealthy chocolate log. For a well-earned vacation drink with associates, select between a mint tea on the stallholders’ fave hangout, Le Penty, or be part of the stylish customers tucking into freshly shucked oysters and chilled chardonnay at Le Baron Rouge. When you’re on an evening out, there are many basic brasseries – comparable to Bofinger, 100 metres from Place de la Bastille– serving Christmas cheer.John Brunton
Vermut: Christmas in a glass, Barcelona

Christmas cheers … vermut and crisps, Catalonia. {Photograph}: Getty Photographs
The Catalan equal of the Christmas morning stroll and drink on the pub is a stroll alongside the seashore earlier than stopping for a vermut – fortified wine infused with herbs and spices that, when poured over ice with a slice of orange, is Christmas in a glass. Espinaler – 20km out of city in the direction of Mataró in Vilassar de Mar and going robust since 1896 – is all the time convivial, however by no means extra so than on Christmas morning. Locals come for breakfast or lunch, and clink glasses with associates and neighbours round marble-topped tables fuelled on house-made conservas (canned cockles, razors clams and mussels, sardines, anchovies and olives) and olive oil-fried crisps with top-secret Espinaler sauce. When you don’t fancy that, its salt cod fritters, Russian salad and patatas bravas are glorious too. When you do, it has a number of Christmas hampers crammed with ready-to-serve conservas and vermut (from €9.95 for the mini model) on supply this yea. Tara Stevens
Julbord in Sweden

Feast daze … the Swedish Christmas
julbord with cheese, potatoes, beets, meatballs, baked bread, roast ham and marinated herring. {Photograph}: Chad Ehlers/Alamy
Since transferring to Sweden in 2012, I have a good time Christmas a day early. The 24th is a day of julbord (buffet of herring, gravlax, meatballs, ham, pink cabbage), large fires, and Tomte (Swedish Santa). For the 25th I’ve adopted my Swedish spouse’s custom: we head to Sundhammar, a tiny public seashore on the west coast. If it’s chilly sufficient, we will skate on the frozen sea (not one thing I ever imagined doing rising up within the East Midlands). There shall be different households there skating or strolling their canines, and the water is shallow so excellent for low-risk enjoyable. The seashore is uncooked and pure – no present retailers or bogs – however the views are spectacular. After skating we’ll slot in a stroll alongside the pinkish granite rocks, a picnic of leftovers and scorching chocolate, and a 3pm sundown over the archipelago. Then we head house to construct up the hearth once more, nurse our bruises, and sleep off the festive meals.Will Dean is creator of Crimson Snow, revealed by Oneworld on 10 January
Fermented skate, Iceland

Rotten luck … a dish of fermented
skata at a
restaurant in Reykjavik. {Photograph}: Alamy
My first encounter with Icelandic Christmas traditions was at a farm I used to be staying at in northern Iceland some years in the past. Arriving on 23 December – St Thorlak’s Day, a day celebrating the patron saint of Iceland and the final day earlier than Christmas – I used to be offered with a feast of putrid skate and potatoes, a conventional meal consumed on that day. However, with the assistance of some ice-cold Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps), I managed to complete the plate of gelatinous fish and felt like I’d handed a major cultural problem. Over time I’ve even come to get pleasure from it. Regardless of the robust scent of ammonia, a results of the fermenting course of, the delicacy is in style, and eating places the place it’s served get booked up shortly. So far as the cooks are involved, the stronger the stench the higher: if it makes you cry and clears your sinuses, you recognize it’s good. Happily, it doesn’t style as dangerous because it smells.• Skate buffet lunch from £33 at Fish Firm, Vesturgata 2a, Grofartorg, Reykjavik (open on 23 December)Lisa Shannen
Christmas carp and church buildings, Czech Republic

Secure relationship … A straw nativity scene at St Vitus cathedral in Prague {Photograph}: Zdenek Maly/Alamy
For a nation that’s in all probability probably the most atheist in Europe, the Czechs do love Christmas crib. Earlier than the Christmas carp is scoffed, many locals – myself now included – pop into their native church to gawp on the 12 months’s ffering. These nativity scenes – betlémy – have been large enterprise in Czechia ever since Holy Roman Emperor Josef II banned them in 1782, prompting the poor to make insurgent papeer maché variations in protest. In Prague, there are good ones on the Church of St Ludmila and Church of St Antonin, however for a mega-nativity-scene repair, the Church of Our Girl of the Snows has its personal mechanical nativity, and homes 200 others, comprised of cardboard, steel and, er, gingerbread. The church is on Jungmannovo náměsti 18 and open 10am-4pm on on 24 Dec (10am-6pm different days).Mark Pickering
Baked eel, Naples

In yonder stall … Carmela at her fish stall at Pignasecca market, Naples. {Photograph}: Giuseppe Di Vaio
As I wandered house late at evening on 23 December earlier than my first Christmas in Naples a number of years in the past, it regarded like all hell had damaged unfastened within the slim streets of La Pignasecca market. At each nook, fishmongers in blood-splattered aprons, with knives in hand, had been wrestling with reside eels on chopping boards. Frenziedly working in opposition to the clock, they had been making ready sufficient of this Christmas Eve deal with, often known as capitone, for each household within the neighbourhood to benefit from the subsequent day. At La Pescheria Azzurra, my favoured fish stall, matriarch Carmela, who abroad greater than 20 staff, noticed me as I regarded on aghast. “Will you be taking your capitone house useless or alive?” she requested. If I had replied “alive”, I might have needed to take my eel and maintain it within the bathtub earlier than knocking it on the pinnacle with a hammer simply earlier than cooking time on Christmas Eve. Neapolitans imagine the eel is the embodiment of Devil, so though a budget and filling capitone is lower than appetising, consuming it on Christmas Eve has remained symbolic, akin to devouring all evil itself. However there’s no have to kill the fish your self: Carmela will pluck one straight from a vat behind her stall, to be chopped into small chunks, deep-fried and served on plastic plates (from €10).Sophia Seymour
Tree-hunting in Norway

Fjord fiesta … the village of Naustdal, western Norway. {Photograph}: Alamy
Many Norwegian households hunt for his or her excellent Christmas tree in their very own forest. Final 12 months the duty was given to me. I’ve six siblings, who all have companions and children, and we have a good time Christmas Eve at my mom’s in Naustdal, a picturesque fjord village. My thick outfit would have made Arctic expeditioners jealous. My noticed and axe would have scared polar bears, had there been any; they reside additional north. I used to be adopted into the snowy woods by a curious cat and two nephews. Sverre needed spruce; Miguel most popular pine. We settled on a juniper. Lights, Norwegian flags and ornaments made by nieces made it look … respectable. The youngsters had been extra within the parcels beneath anyway, whereas the adults indulged in cloudberry cream.Word: Chopping timber in others’ forests is illegitimate, discover a tree farmer.Gunnar Garfors
Fisherman’s soup in Budapest

Within the pink … spicy halászlé fish soup
Bowls of vivid pink halászlé usually kick off Christmas Eve feast (a much bigger event than Christmas Day) in Hungary. This spicy “fisherman’s soup”, teeming with chunks of freshwater fish and enlivened by scorching paprika, was historically ready in cauldrons over fires by males who fished within the Danube and Tisza rivers. Every recipe is totally different: some name for noodles, others for dollops of cooling bitter cream. Stradivari Restaurant, within the Aria Resort Budapest (Hercegprímás u. 5), as an illustration, provides a model for Christmas Eve lunch with catfish, trout, and caviar (round £6.50). Different basic vacation dishes embody breaded carp fillet, stuffed cabbage rolls and the poppy seed-laden puddings mákos guba and beigli. The latter are cylinders of yeast-raised dough usually given as presents at Christmas. Snag one at any cukrászda (confectioner’s) or grocery store for a candy immersion into Hungarian ritual.Alia Akkam