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Christmas experiences from the PR Committee

Christmas is celebrated differently across the world (or even not celebrated at all). We were wondering how much our Christmas experiences differ from each other just within our committee, since we all grew up in different countries and cultures. So here is how we – the PR committee celebrate Christmas. Let us know how you do it, and of course: happy holidays and a wonderful new year!


Celebrating Christmas for me already started last weekend, by escaping the snowy landscape and enjoying some sun rays in Spain while admiring all the Christmas decoration. Unfortunately, I don’t really have two weeks of Christmas holidays, but because of that I will enjoy the days off even more. The Saturday before Christmas I am meeting with friends and we will do Secret Santa. This way we actually mix celebrating Sinterklaas and celebrating Christmas. Everyone will bring some small tapas and we will just have a fun time together unwrapping gifts and listening to the poems we’ve written for each other. On Christmas Eve, I will probably watch the Dutch television show All you need is love (a famous tv show in the Netherlands, especially the Christmas version) and go to the church. Although I do not go there frequently, it always gives me the real Christmas feeling, as I used to go there with Christmas when I was a child as well. Both on the 25th and the 26th of December, I am together with my family and we don’t really do that much apart from eating. We will probably have cheese fondue as dinner or we will do gourmetten, very stereotypical Dutch as well, it’s similar to raclette but not especially involving cheese and everyone has their own small pan. And when I don’t eat, I will just really enjoy doing nothing and being together with my family!


As a medicine student, the days before Christmas are unfortunately filled with studying and internships and days at the hospital. However, as soon as I have my last day of university, I am going to my hometown to meet some friends from high school and spend time with the family. Then on Christmas Eve, I usually go to church with my parents and afterwards we watch a movie or just sit downstairs together. First Christmas Day, we meet with extended family and have a big dinner together. Furthermore, we all buy presents for each other and put them under the Christmas tree. One by one we then unpack the presents while just sitting together with coffee, tea and snacks. Once we had dinner, we usually play board games together like Scrabble or Settlers of Catan. We always plan on doing this for a long time, but we usually end up moving to the coach and watching Home Alone or another movie for the millionth time. Second Christmas Day, I am just spending with my parents and brother and we have a smaller dinner with just the four of us.


Growing up in the US, my christmas was a typical American one. Waking up on the 25th to countless presents lying under the tree. When we moved here a couple of years back, these traditions slowly started to merge with the Dutch ones. Weirdly enough, they celebrate 2 days of christmas here: The 25th and 26th. We merged the two christmas but still focus on the American one. We get the family together and everyone has gotten gifts for each other. In terms of food, we start out with a brunch and then towards the evening we end christmas day with complete dinner including lots of wine!


I have lived in the UK for the last 6 years and therefore my family and I always celebrate Polish Christmas with an English twist. We have our Christmas dinner on the 24th of December, often I am back in Poland and therefore I spent it with my cousins, aunts and grandmas. We usually cook on the 23rd or 24th morning, hang out as a family and enjoy each other’s company.  If I’m celebrating in the UK,  we would always celebrate in the same way as in Poland but usually on the 25th we would have a traditional English Christmas dinner. So I guess I get to combine traditions from both countries; and eat twice the food. This year however I am spending my Christmas break in Mexico , so I will be on the plane on the 25th – maybe they will serve Christmas dinner on the plane…  I am definitely looking forward to some sunny weather.


One thing that seems to stand out about German Christmas is that it’s typically celebrated on the evening of the 24th, with the 25th and 26th being two additional holidays. When we were younger, my mum, dad, brother and me would always decorate the tree together in the morning (for some reason my dad always insisted that we have it standing outside until the 24th and then get it in and decorate it properly). Now, instead of that, my mum likes to take me and my brother into the city, to sit in a cafe and watch people hunt for last minutes gift (highly recommend doing that! It’s great fun)
In the evening, we go to church together. When we’re back home, we start opening the presents and simultaneously prepare the rest of the food that still needs to be done. As a kid, the presents were never underneath the tree when we left for church, but somehow they were there when we returned. I still don’t know how my parents did that. My dad offered to tell me, but I don’t want to know about that yet, I think it would kind of kill the magic of Christmas a bit. Dinner usually is raclette, which also is quite a popular German Christmas dinner choice. Later in the evening I often go visit some friends of mine that live close-by. On the 27th we then go visit my dad’s family, who have a restaurant and quite a few of my relatives are talented cooks and bakers, so we always end up eating way more than we should. Our Christmases are not always the most harmonic though, since it’s basically the only time my parents, me and my brother are all together for a long time, but I still always look forward to having the whole family back together again for once.
Written by the PR Committee