By India Stotesbury & Yara Sewalt.
Here at Wijnhaven, we have a very multicultural community. A community that studies together, parties together, moans about gender neutral toilets together, and creates a brilliant Baismag together… But one thing we don’t do together, is celebrate the festive season: on the 25th of December most students return home to be with their family, in whichever country that may be. Curious as to what all your international amigos are getting up to on this day? Let’s have a look!
When does the ‘Christmas period’ start and end for you?
Great Britain: You might come across the first Christmas decorations on display in October and hear the first Christmas songs played in November, but Christmas really starts in December, with the revelation of the first chocolate behind your advent calendar door. Christmas trees are taken down after the Twelve Days of Christmas.
United States: For the worst types of people, it begins after Halloween. For the normal people, it’s acceptable to start playing Christmas music after Thanksgiving.
Hungary: 24th December – 6th January, and we also celebrate advent.
The Netherlands: The 25th of December is ‘Eerste kerstdag’ and the 26th of December is ‘Tweede kerstdag’, so first and second Christmas day.
Italy: 24th December to 9th January.
India: The Christmas period is very short over here, in some families they start from 1st to 26th December and they celebrate it, but people who are poor or if their kids go to school then they just do it for 7 days 20-26 because its exam time in schools and colleges. Traditional Catholics who follow Catholicism properly don’t eat from 1-24 December until midnight service, they fast.*
Chile: It starts after Halloween and finishes on the 26th of December.
France: 22nd December – 5th January.
What kind of food traditions do you have?
Britain: Turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, sprouts, pigs in a blanket, mince pies, trifle, Christmas pudding… Yule logs and Quality Street for the ones with the sweet tooth.
U.S.: Food tradition is a big meal with the family inclusive of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing… Basically everything from Thanksgiving but kicked up a notch.
Hungary: Fish soup-halászlé, stuffed cabbage-töltött káposzta, bejgl.
Netherlands: Kerststol (Christmas stollen cake).
Italy: Panettone (cake), Cappone.
India: Rich fruit Christmas cake, kidiyo (deep-fried curly dough balls, dusted in icing sugar), neureos (small pastries stuffed with dry fruit and coconut, sesame seeds and fried), dodol (toffee that has coconut and cashew inside). We also have the ‘consuada’, when people make sweets before Christmas and give them to their friends and neighbours.
Chile: No traditions, we just get a fancy dinner at home with the family (could be tuna, rabbit, a good steak).
France: Foie gras, oysters, turkey, champagne.
What’s a popular Christmas song?
Britain: Last Christmas by Wham! is a classic you will not be able to escape. Another is Do they know it’s Christmas by Band Aid.
U.S.: No better Christmas song than Mistletoe by Justin Bieber.
Hungary: A Kis Jézus Megszületett by Emese Kindrusz.
Netherlands: Santa’s Party by Nick en Simon.
Italy: Gesu’ nascette a napule by Mario Maglione.
India: Many of the people over here prefer the classic old We wish you a merry christmas sung too much by children and students. Yet women in particular sing some traditional music as well, and they sing carols in churches and when they go to each other’s homes for greeting the family.
Chile: Dulce Navidad (the equivalent to Jingle Bells), also some people listen to Villancicos (all the Christmas classics, like noche de paz noche de amor).
France: Vive le vent!
Do you get a white Christmas?
Britain: Nope, sadly not. We do get to build a snowman the odd year, but it doesn’t happen often.
U.S.: There used to be white Christmases before global warming.
Netherlands: If we’re lucky (which is rarely).
Italy: Not always.
India: Maybe in the North, but mostly people put out some cotton balls as snow, to make the children happy. Some in their gifts, some in the tree and some on the floor around it.
Chile: No, summer just started so it’s about 35 degrees.
France: Not often.
How do you wish someone a good time over the Christmas season?
Britain: Merry Christmas!
U.S.: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Hungary: Merry Christmas – Boldog Karácsonyt! Happy New Year – Boldog új évet! Happy Holidays – Kellemes Ünnepeket!
Netherlands: Vrolijk Kerstfeest/Fijne Kerst!
Italy: Merry Christmas – Buon Natale! Happy New Year – Felice anno nuovo!
India: In Hindi: क्रिसमस मुबारक – Christmas Mubaarak/Happy Christmas
Chile: You could say ‘Felices Fiestas’ – Happy Holidays or ‘Feliz navidad y un prospero año nuevo’ – Merry Christmas and a good start of the New Year.
France: Joyeux Noël!