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It's good to miss beautiful parts of our own culture. It shows how much it has stuck.


Good point, Karen! Happy 2013 to you.


It's hard to enjoy Christmas when it's just another day. Merry Christmas to both of you, and a prosperous New Year.


Is it because of the absence of snow in Asia? Maybe you do miss the white-ness Christmas? Being Filipino, I think MAYBE the Philippines could Christmas capital of the region. The Christmas holiday hoopla in the Philippines is just amazing, in which starts when carols start blaring on the radio as early as September and then proceeds to the start of the advent season then Simbang Gabi / Christmas Novena. The festivities are endless with every man, woman and child you know and the world literally just stops.

Next time, should you find yourself in the Philippines again, try not to work and just enjoy the warmth of the season (quite literally) :)

Merry Christmas!


While I do enjoy Christmas time here is North America, I miss the Chinese New Year in Asia ....


After spending 2 years in Bra, a small town in Piedmonte, as an American I don't think I ever felt like Christmas was more civil than when I lived there. You really right and the lack of stupid junk in those small towns seems so much less. Nothing open on Christmas, not even a gas station. Just people at home, properly provisioned, eating drinking and enjoying life together.
Thanks for your post.


Same to you Jodi, and thanks for being a regular!

Didi, though we were working in Pampanga (it was a Christmas story, have a read there's a link there) we fully enjoyed and appreciated the spirit of the season. The Philippines is probably ones of the *world's* Christmas capitals, not just of Asia. It was a wonderful Christmas experience and one we'd happily repeat.

Hi Albert - I wondered, as I wrote this, if Chinese New Year celebrants feel the same sort thing when they are away from home. And Indians with Deepvali, etc etc. Especially so even, because at least Christmas in Malaysia is a holiday whereas CNY is not even recognized in the States.

Jesse - yes, you are exactly right. Maybe next year, Christmas in Piedmonte again. Thanks for reading!

Todd Lowe

Robyn, hoping you and David had a good Christmas and have a fabulous 2013. Thanks for the ongoing blogging -


I loved this post, you said it so much better than I could have. After spending the last three Christmases in Asia and Australia I was excited to be in Paris this December; I thought the winter weather and Christmas markets would make it feel like home but I was wrong. I think it's the Christmas spirit - like your encounter in that shop in Italy - that truly makes the season for me. A month where people are generally kinder to each other, and everyone is singing Christmas carols and spirits are lifted - it's hard to replicate that feeling abroad.


Thank you Edna! Maybe try Italy next Christmas ... we hope to. Happy New Year!

Hi Todd -- You're welcome, and thank you for reading. Have a great New Year!


I hear you Robyn. Felt miserable during my first Durga Puja in mumbai away from home and Kolkata and feels a lot different now that I know the local Bengalis.

You should come to India for Christmas. It's pretty big in Kolkata and various parts of Mumbai including the suburb I stay in right up to fake holly in the elevators

You'd get turkey too

Merry Christmas to Dave and you and a very happy new year


I think in general Catholic countries have longer build-up, and higher spirit of the season. Irish Xmas is more traditional and full on than English, French Canadian more than German’s for instance. The celebratory mode surrounds shopping and preparing get together meals, food is similar to Chinese new year. Whereas, the English Xmas, purely from my own experience, seems more about exchanging gifts, about thoughts to your loved ones. I had colleague from France told me that eating is a big part of Xmas, several courses a day, all through the day and lasts several days. Lots of meats, different meat in different course. Vegetarianism is rare in France, she said.

thyme (sarah)

A wonderful non-Christmas-y but Christmas-y post nonetheless! When we lived in Japan we were surprised how many Christmas lights and decorations were in the shops. We strung lights up on the wall in the shape of a tree and taped origami 'ornaments' the kids made. It was fun. Never had Christmas in Italy but was there once for Easter...so so beautiful with the Church bells ringing from town to town. Guess what?? Tickets are purchased for Istanbul: May. So beyond excited! Thank you for all of your wonderful articles.

thyme (sarah)

Let's try that first sentence (above) again...A wonderful Christmas-y but NON Christmas-y post! Grrrr...need to slow down...


Well, didn't feel like Xmas either here in Toronto as we didn't have snow! However, made up for more than that with a snowstorm on Boxing Day. Have spent Xmas in Melb and it felt Christmas-y with the deco, although a bit more scaled down than N America, and it was warm! At least folks were nice and stores were closed and ppl stayed home with their family/ loved ones. Had Xmas in Asia too and absolutely hated it: noisy, crowded malls, stores were open till MIDNITE Dec 24, and open Dec 25 too! Ppl were rushing around, rude, stressed out. I like to think that Xmas is a state of mind: spend time with family/ friends/ relaxing/ good food/ good drinks. Presents are an option, and as I age (oh-so-gracefully), less commercialism is the choice. Nice post, thank you!


Don't worry Robyn, come Jan/Feb I'll be envying you for getting to spend CNY in Malaysia ... Penang perhaps?


Hi Elliot - to tell the truth, we try to NOT be in Penang for CNY. It's the only time of the year that most of our favorite hawkers and restaurants close down, often for a week or two. The markets are depleted of produce, half the vendors close their stalls..... not a great time to be here unless you have local family!
This year we'll be in Turkey. For the snow. ;)


Thanks Chris -- I'm with you on the less commercialism the better. Which is why Christmas in rural Italy was so refreshing. The only shopping frenzy was for food!

Sarah - great news! We'll "chat" about Istanbul. Happy New Year!

Hi Kalyan - interesting idea, Christmas in India. I'd be curious what it's like down south, I understand there is a decent sized Syriac Christian community in Goa. But I'm just dying to visit Calcutta one way or another. Happy New Year!

Katy, I think you're right. Which is why the Philippines is such a great place to be on Christmas (plus they celebrate the world's longest!).

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