Can you believe Christmas is literally around the corner? As in next week? While I may have the perfect gifts picked out this year, I still feel somewhat disconnected from the holiday season. My plan for the next week is to make some rich cocoa, blast only Christmas tunes and watch all of the Christmas movies. Oh, and I’m learning about how other countries celebrate Christmas as well. The traditions vary greatly, but these destinations are all incredible places to celebrate Christmas:

Lapland, Finland

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Lapland, Finland may just deliver the world’s most magical Christmas. If you have your doubts, just check out this webpage and then tell me your heart didn’t skip a few beats over the possibility that the REAL Santa lives there! Finland has the snow, the reindeer, and Father Christmas all rolled into one enchanted experience for the whole family. Traditions include eating rice pudding on Christmas Eve morning, followed by a sauna bath, a trip to the cemetery to honor loved ones and a real visit from Santa that night.

Rome, Italy

For those looking for the ultimate Christmas Eve service, how could it be better than in Rome, Italy? The focus in Rome is not on the decorations, but on the spiritual heart of Christmas, and there are over 600 churches there. To celebrate Christmas in Rome, arrive a day or two early to start by shopping at the Piazza Novona Christmas Market, famous for its hot roasted chestnuts and toys for sale. Then, get ready for the life size nativity scene revealed on Christmas Eve.  The traditional Christmas Eve service, called Midnight Mass, is usually held at 10 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica and presided over by the Pope himself. Finish off the evening with ice skating and fine dining, though book early as the restaurants fill quickly on Christmas Eve.

Melbourne, Australia

For those who wish to celebrate Christmas with warm weather and a Santa Claus in shorts, it’s time to head down to Melbourne, Australia. In Australia, this time of the year has everyone flocking to the beaches and sunshine, and it’s possible to catch Santa riding a surfboard rather than a sleigh. Never fear, though, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well, and the city goes to great lengths to provide light shows, a Magical Kingdom and free public transportation on Christmas Day. Many Melbourne residents and guests will also sing carols by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

 New York, New York

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Finally,  if a trip out of the US isn’t in the travel budget, try New York. Long favored in movies and commercials, there truly is something wonderful about this city at Christmas. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the famous window displays, ice skating at Rockefeller Center near the Christmas tree, and catching any number of incredible live performances. From lights to trains to singing, New York offers every possible American Christmas tradition to try out; just peek at this list for some ideas.

So, what are your traditions? How will you celebrate Christmas this year?