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10 Unexpected Holiday Destinations for the New Year and What to Eat When You Get There

10 Unexpected Holiday Destinations for the New Year and What to Eat When You Get There


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Planning your 2016 travel itinerary? Don’t leave these underrated gems off your list of possibilities

The New Year is just around the corner, and that means an entirely new list of dream destinations for the year’s travel. Check out these 10 locations before deciding on more well-known vacations.

A new year always opens up so many possibilities, including hopes for travel. Very few of us are likely to visit them all, like this British 24-year-old did (he set the bar pretty high.) But that doesn't mean that our travel itineraries shouldn't stray beyond London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Sydney. The whole point of travel is to see new places, have new experiences, and, at least for people like us, eat new food.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 unexpected destinations for your first trip of the New Year. Each of them will enrich your life, expand your horizons, yield Instagram photos that will make everyone jealous (and make them Google where you are, exactly) — and introduce you to some gustatory treats you may not yet have encountered.

Check out our list, which ranges from Friuli, a northeastern Italian region bordering Austria and Slovenia, to Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island nation off South America’s northern coast. Happy dreaming!


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.


9 countries where it’s not Christmas dinner without fish

As soon as the sun set on Christmas Eve, Aleks, a second-year MFA student from New Jersey, sat down at the dinner table for the traditional Polish Wigilia feast with his parents and older brother. His dad, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life, was a deacon at their local Polish church, and he created individual pray booklets for each member of the family so that they could pray together throughout the meal. Before they could eat, the family shared oplatek — a thin wafer similar to one you might eat at communion — and offered each other a message of “peace and hope for the new year.” In his family, there was no alternative to celebrating Christmas this way.

“Christmas Eve was Wigilia — to not partake in these traditions would be to not have Christmas at all,” Aleks wrote to me in an email.

Fish is the star of this meal, a custom which stems from the fact that, according to Roman Catholic tradition, observers can’t eat meat on days of fasting — though seafood is acceptable. In many Eastern European countries, this tradition is still upheld. Accordingly, the first course in Aleks’s family meal was always pickled herring in cream sauce and pumpernickel bread, followed by flounder or sole, served alongside pickled beets, latkes, and pierogi.

Aleks’s father passed away in 1998, but his mother still prepared the Wigilia feast every Christmas “as a way of keeping his memory alive,” and though Aleks has long since left home and married, he still honors his Polish heritage with a Wigilia feast of his own. No longer an observant Catholic, he makes chapbooks similar to those his father designed, except his version is filled with poetry. His wife, a professional chef, prepares red snapper, butter-poached branzino, arctic char in a chicory chili rub, or salmon in a dill chimichurri. In past years, they’ve even added crab legs and platters of shrimp to the meal.

“Wigilia is a way of feeling connected to things that can sometimes feel a little fragmented,” Aleks says. His father passed away more than two decades ago, he’s no longer on speaking terms with his brother, and he doesn’t go to church anymore. But the Wigilia feast endures. “When we sit down together at our Wigilia dinner, I feel somewhat whole again.”

In many other countries where seafood is an abundant resource, eating fish on Christmas is a beloved tradition that brings families together in celebration and reverence. It’s a way to honor their heritage, to express gratitude for the blessings of the coming year, and to practice customs passed down through many generations.

Here are nine countries that eat fish for Christmas dinner.



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