This year, one present I know I won't get is a trip to Europe. Even a place like New York — shorter flight, just as festive — is out of the question. With much of the world battling a second wave of COVID-19, activities at most places are limited. Manhattan will lack its kick without the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular, which has been called off. Germany's sparkle will be dimmed because many of its Christmas markets are canceled. The pope will deliver his Christmas message without a congregation.

All of this is no reason to ho-ho-harrumph.

This deep into the coronavirus pandemic, travel companies, destinations and museums have managed to use the internet to bring their offerings to the public, and that includes good cheer. Here are some ways to relish the world's holiday traditions at home.

If you need an infusion of julglädje (Christmas joy in Swedish), log onto the American Swedish Institute. The Minneapolis museum has several virtual offerings for the season. Among them are four sessions, Dec. 19 and 20, of a hands-on class in making traditional Nordic birch bark star ornaments ( There's also a virtual julglädje party with traditional Swedish Christmas tunes and games on Nov. 28 (

To whip up some Italian holiday spirit — in the form of favorite holiday dishes — check out Esperienza, a Minneapolis nonprofit that works to revitalize fading villages of rural Italy. The organization is offering a two-part virtual holiday cooking class based at Casa Artusi, a cooking school in Forlimpopoli, in the region of Italy known for its culinary delights, Emilia-Romagna. On the menu: quintessential holiday dishes such as Cappelletti all'uso di Romagna, a pasta typically served in warm broth, and Brasato al Sangiovese, beef braised in wine. Interactive live classes will take place via Zoom on Dec. 12 and Dec. 27; participants can also choose to view recorded versions at any time (

Airbnb Experiences has its own list of virtual options, including meetings with Santa and Mrs. Claus. To see colorful lights that rival any holiday display, check out the Aurora Borealis in Tromso, Norway. For an online option that closely resembles travel, with a deep dive into culture, learn about the holiday traditions of Kenya and its 44 ethnic groups with Samson. It is offered on multiple dates (

Kerri Westenberg • 612-673-4282