The more curious, however, should venture out to Brooklyn for a slightly more off the cuff, yet equally ostentatious gander at how New Yorkers do Christmas. The proudly and predominantly Italian-American residents from roughly 11th to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street have an unspoken agreement to one-up each other with holiday decorations which, much to the mirth of passersby, often results in two-story Santas, armies of 30-foot wooden soldiers, over-sized animatronic toys, motorized carousels, and enough nutcrackers to make Tchaikovsky twinkle with delight.
Wander this winter wonderland on your own, or with a tour organized by long-time resident, Tony Muia, which includes a cannoli and a hot chocolate from a Brooklyn bakery.
Roughly 200 miles north of Addis Ababa is Lalibela; a small old town of 20,000 residents which is home to 11 monolithic churches. Dating as far back as the 12th century and carved out of striking red-color blocks of volcanic rock, the churches have been excavated from under the ground, and are connected by a complex and sometimes claustrophobic network of tunnels and passageways.
Declared a "new Jerusalem" after the real Jerusalem was captured by Muslim forces in 1187 and Ethiopian Christians could no longer go there, Lalibela remains a very religious place.
Coptic Christmas (January 7) mass at Bet Medhane Alem - the largest monolithic church in the world - is an occasion on which hundreds of priests in white turbans, adorned with red sashes and gold scarves chant, sway, and pray, surrounded by trenches flooded with some 50,000 worshipers, for whom this is a sacred place of pilgrimage.
If you can manage to extend your Christmas holiday until Three King's Day, (Jan. 6) there is no better place to catch up with Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar than Barcelona. On the evening of Jan. 5, they arrive at the city's port on the the Santa Eulàlia -- their very own ship -- in bearded and velvet robed splendor.
Canons are fired, fireworks are set off, and as the mayor hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences. They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats which includes camels, elephants, giraffes, and dazzling costumes
Though spending Christmas on a beach may sound like bliss, sipping an endless supply of cocktails in the sand may soon feel like it's lacking in holiday spirit.
A trip to the Philippines lets you have it all. Known as the country with "the longest Christmas season in the world," Filipinos get the Christmas festivities rolling in September, and extend them well through January.
As the only Asian country with a predominantly Christian population, its cities and islands are festooned with nativities, lantern parades, and Christmas bazaars.
While the Chocolate Hills of Bohol or the beaches of Boracay may prove a more relaxing option, spend at least a day in the capital, where this December, the Manila Hotel is turning its Grand Lobby into a fairytale worthy of Clara and Fritz.
Soak up your share of sugar plum fairies, gingerbread clocks and weekend performances of The Nutcracker by Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, before escaping to the sun.
Queenstown, New Zealand
The traditional Christmas colors of red, green and white take on an entirely new meaning in New Zealand, where red represents the "pohutukawa" (New Zealand's ruby-red flowering Christmas tree), white represents the pristine sandy beaches, and green? The kiwi, of course! Sun-lovers who want to join Santa in his surf shorts should definitely head to Queenstown, where warm summer temperatures mean you can jetboat, river surf, or paraglide on Lake Wakatipu, or simply set up camp along the lakefront and enjoy a hearty Christmas meal of lamb, seafood, and chicken on the barbie.