What’s your traditional Christmas celebration?

Christmas is traditionally regarded as the most important public festivity both in Europe and the Netherlands. However, in some other countries it is not nearly as special, with national celebrations being held on entirely different dates. This week, EM asked these students what they have planned for Christmas.

Ying Yao, 22, and Yue Quan, 23, master students of Economics from China

Ying Yao: “Chinese New Year is actually in February and we don’t have a break then, so I won’t be able to participate in our traditional festival and see my family. Usually we would get together with all the distant relatives to have a festive dinner and watch TV afterwards. When it gets to 12 it is a tradition to go outside to count and set the fireworks. Anyway, I will try to make the most out of the Christmas break: I am going to Budapest first, and then to London to see my friends. However, I will still have a bit of home feeling, since the friend whom I am visiting is Chinese.”

Yue Quan: “I am going to Germany to stay with my friend and her family. I would like to get a taste of Christmas and experience the way it is celebrated in Europe. My friend has visited me in China, and now it is a good time for me stay with her. Actually, in China it is typical to give money as a present, but I won’t do that of course. I will bring some traditional Chinese gifts and food that I got back at home.”

Syakirah Al’Gadri, 22, masters of History, Culture and Communication from the Netherlands

“Although I am half-Arabic, I am not really familiar with the Islamic traditions, but I don’t think they celebrate Christmas. My mom is Dutch, so I am more used to the traditional European festivities. My parents live in the South of the Netherlands, so I will first go visit them. We have nothing super special planned. We usually just gather and have a festive dinner. First day it is just the close family, my mother, brothers and sisters. On the second day we go to see my grandparents and more distant relatives. I also have a party with friends on the first day of Christmas. We go out, and then eat again. Still, I prefer celebrating with family. It is way more easy and relaxed, you are just chilling. And with friends, they are all going, so I am also joining.”

Chahira Kalai, 22, student at Rotterdam Business School from the Netherlands

“I am not really into festivities, I watch the sparkles and decorations but it doesn’t really get me into any sort of special mood. I will probably go shopping and buy something for myself and my little sister. You see, I am Muslim and we don’t celebrate Christmas. We have our own New Year festivity and it has already been in November. It is at the end of the Ramadan, a month of fasting. We sacrifice sheep and have a sugar party. Then, we give presents to our siblings. It is usually candy, because it is appropriate for the theme. But actually it could be anything that you could give for someone’s birthday. So Christmas is not a special day for me, but I will try to have fun and go to a party.” KS