With foreign exchange students in a new place for the holidays, they have mixed feelings on the new traditions that they will experience. Most are eager for enjoy these customs and beliefs but all can agree that they miss their family back home.
Although there are many different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world, most countries, including America, have a big family feast with their country’s most known foods.
Nicolas Jaramillo, ‘18, and his original Colombian traditions differ from ours in many ways. They write letters to ‘Little Baby Jesus’ asking for presents early but the actual Christmas celebration starts on the 7th of December. Jaramillo said, “In the new year, we make a little puppet filled with fireworks, representing the old year and we blow it up at the end of the year.” Jaramillo said although he has many traditions during the holidays, the New Year tradition is his favorite and he hopes to do it again this year with his host family. “It’s sad. I mean it makes me sad… But I understand that it’s an experience I have to live so I’m for it. I’m down for it.”
In Egypt, Habiba Gahlan, ‘19, had a tradition of decorating the tree with her family as they enjoy the beautiful Christmas season. Although she didn’t do it every year, she said being a foreign exchange student has changed her mindset and she looks forward to going home to her family next year and decorating the tree together. Gahlan shares insight to how she feels about being away from her home country and her family. “It’s a little bit hard because during Christmas your with your family and spending the holidays with your family and all of that so being away from my family is a little bit hard. I think that my host parents are making sure that they make me feel like i’m at home.” In Arabic Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Eid Milad Majid’ (عيد ميلاد مجيد) which means ‘Glorious Birth Feast.’
Eliska Sedlarora, ‘19, from the Czech Republic tells us that her tradition is having a meal and celebrating on the 24th. “With my family we always watch the Polar Express and in my country we don’t eat meat until Christmas Eve,” Sedlarora said. Although Sedlarora feels as though her host parents are making sure that she feels at home, she obviously is sad that she is not with her parents in the Czech Republic. “It’s a little bit hard because during Christmas you’re with your family and spending the holidays with your family and all of that so being away from my family is a little bit hard.” In Czech language, Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Veselé Vánoce.
So this Christmas season, make sure to enjoy time with your family and a well deserved break from school!