By Meredith – Port Elizabeth, 28th November 2018. In just under a month’s time a good majority of the world will celebrate the Christmas holidays. For weeks already the shopping malls have been blasting Boney M and Mariah Carey’s Christmas hits with every nook and cranny shoved full of shiny tinsel and flickering Christmas lights. The shelves have been stocked with all sorts of prettily wrapped chocolate boxes, retired old men don their Santa suits to listen to endless lists of toys wanted by children, and mothers start frantically cleaning their houses in preparation for visiting family. Looking to avoid this highly consumeristic holiday, can’t bare to spend time with your cheek squeezing aunty Susie, tired of the same old Christmas lunch and routine? Or maybe you love this magical time of year, but really fancy some time away. There’s still time to book yourself and your family a holiday in the magical, mystic country of Morocco.
Morocco is a Muslim country and thus Christmas is traditionally not celebrated. For most it in just a normal day of work and school. Outside the big cities you will not spot a trace of Christmas decor. However, in the bigger, metropolitan cities like Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Fez and Marrakech Christmas is gaining in popularity. Many foreigners call these cities home and business travel is vital to the economy. To accommodate this some Western traditions have become integrated into Moroccan life. It is also high tourist season as many Europeans catch a quick flight across the sea to enjoy a relatively inexpensive holiday. Many hotels and riads have started getting into the holiday spirit. One must thus remember that that accommodation can book up fairly early, so don’t wait until the last minute!
Getting in the festive spirit
If you want to have a traditional Christmas experience stay in the bigger cities, especially Rabat, which is home to many foreigners and visiting businessmen. Bigger hotels, especially chains, offer Christmas meals and related events and luxury riads are also starting to decorate and celebrate the holiday.There are churches throughout the country for those that want to attend. Owing to the Spanish and French influence the majority of churches are Catholic.
There are several large supermarkets in Marrakech that stock British and other holiday favourites to ensure travelers get their fill of their favorite holiday candies. Keen to indulge in some holiday merriment you can find bars in most cities and most hotels allow the consumption of alcohol. Maybe try some Moroccan wine, although not well known for wine, it is starting to gain popularity. Please check with your accommodation beforehand as some establishments don’t want alcohol consumed on their properties due to their religious beliefs or locality to a mosque.
For those accustomed to a white Christmas snowfall can occur in the Atlas Mountains. The pretty, colonial city of Ifrane is popular for resorts and travelers can merrily spend their time skiing, making snow angels and sitting by log fires.
The beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen is a great option for a new take on Christmas. Hidden in the mountains and forest, decked out all in blue, this pretty gem of a city is a magical winter retreat. Stay in the medina close to the main square-it looks pretty ‘Christmassy’ throughout the year with its colorful string lights dangling in the trees. Get lost exploring the many blue streets decorated with colorful hanging baskets, enjoy meals at the numerous little restaurants, haggle for souvenirs and stocking fillers, or go hike in the rif mountains to find a beautiful waterfall.
Escaping the festive spirit
For those wishing to completely avoid the Christmas spirit, one can completely miss all corny festivities when in Morocco. Most locals will be going about their daily business and all shops and restaurants will be open. Wanting to escape the cold European winters you’ll be happy to find relatively warm conditions of about 20 degrees in Marrakech. Swop turkey for tagine, eggnog with mint tea, replace Christmas carols with traditional Gnawa music and delight in the hustle and bustle of the medinas of Morocco. Instead of watching soapies you can happily sit and people watch the locals going about their daily business. Or channel your inner Indiana Jones and set off on your camel into the Sahara Desert sunset. There are activities in Morocco to suit everyone- check out other posts on Desert Morocco Adventures for ideas.
Whether you want to wear your favorite Christmas sweater and embrace an African Christmas, or if you want to change up your routine completely- Morocco will delight all your senses. Times running out your better get planning… contact us at Desert Morocco Adventures if you’d like assistance in planning a tour.