Are you a Christmas Grinch?

Some people love the days around Christmas for various reasons, while others hate this time of year. Typically, if you can't stand hearing 'Jingle Bells' played ad nauseam or are anti-Christmas for any reason, then you can be classified as a 'Christmas Grinch' with a likeness to Ebenezer Scrooge—the miser created by Charles Dickens in his book A Christmas Carol.

The dilemma for Christmas Grinches is how to escape the merriment around them, short of keeping the blinds down and the door locked of their home during Christmas. They might be pleased to know that there are 34 countries to escape to where Christmas in the Western way is not a reason to be merry, Christmas carols are not sung in out-of-tune voices, no presents lurk under a fir tree dripping with tinsel, and there's no pressure to go to midnight mass on Christmas eve. There are no nativity plays to attend or big family lunches when you can't stand sitting next to Uncle Boris, who chews with his mouth open, and Santa won't come down the chimney to munch on treats.

Christianity is the world’s largest religion, but you can escape these jolly days if you head to one of the countries below:


Predominantly Buddhist, Christmas is not a national holiday in Thailand. You will find pockets of people celebrating Christmas, especially where expats and tourists hang out, such as Phuket. It's easy to escape the jingle vibe if you wish to, and you won't have to scoff down plum pudding.

Holidays for Christmas Grinches - The Wise Traveller - Thailand


There will be no choking on a mince pie in Bhutan, as less than 1% of the population is Christian—Buddhism has been the dominant religion for about the last two thousand years. And you won't encounter Santa's reindeer—Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph—while hiking up to Paro Taktsang (Tiger's Nest), the iconic and legendary cliff-hanging monastery is the landmark of Bhutan.


With only 15% of Egypt's population being Christian (Copts), it's totally safe to take that Nile cruise you have always dreamed about to escape the threat of having to sit beside old Aunt Bessie, who has bad breath, at a family gathering and the traditional leg of ham won't make it onto the ship's menu. If you really are a killjoy about Christmas, ensure that you leave before 7th January when the Coptic Orthodox Christians do celebrate Christmas—they use the old Julian calendar.


In Mongolia, you can hijack Santa's reindeer and go for your own joy ride through the snowy winter wonderland of the steppes with its wild and vast landscapes. Christmas is definitely off the agenda here: to the locals, 25th December is merely another day to go to work or school. The only people celebrating the holiday are the foreigners in this ancient land where nomadic herders roam.


Another haven for Christmas grumps is Morocco, as the locals are predominantly Muslim. Mint tea is on the agenda instead of creamy eggnog, chicken and pigeon replacing a big turkey bird, and the Muslim call to prayer from a minaret five times a day resonates in the air instead of Christmas carols. The only Christmas lights are colorful lanterns at night lining narrow old alleys and in the heart of your riad accommodation.

Holidays for Christmas Grinches - The Wise Traveller - Qatar


One for the art and architecture lovers who happen to be anti-Yuletide characters. Qatar has a mixture of religions: 65.5% Muslims, 15.4% Hindus, 3.3% Buddhists, 1.9% other religions and 14.2% Christians. Any merry Christmas festivities are found in the expat community or at five-star hotels, catering to foreigners and dishing up gingerbread men, so don't hang out in the plush hotels. Instead, spend a day sightseeing at Doha's contemporary galleries and museums, meander around a souk, or take an off-road adventure to Qatar's incredible 'inland sea' Khor Al Adaid.

There are quite a few options for the anti-Chrissie souls wishing to escape the whole shebang of the festive season where you won’t have to sit on Santa’s knee, play nicely with an extended family, feed freeloading relatives, or kiss anyone under the mistletoe. Some other bucket-list destinations where you can escape to the hills for a festive-free time include Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam and Laos.

Merry Christmas!

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.