In Christmas, Dallas, Holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays

Holiday Celebrations Across the World

Now that we are approaching our winter holidays, it is a good time to think about all the different ways our international students celebrate this season. So, I asked my students to write how they celebrate this time of year in their country. Here are their responses:

Celebrating the New Year in Turkey

“We do celebrate Christmas (in Turkey), but we celebrate the New Year. I like the New Year celebration because I meet with all my family and friends. We prepare a lot of meals and cook lots of things at home, or we go to a restaurant to celebrate. There is a lot of food and live music. While the time is approaching 12 am, we hug each other and sing songs and dance. I love the most beautiful day of the year because we leave all of our sadness and stress behind. We hope that New Year brings us happiness and luck.”

Ankara, Turkey

The New Year in China

“The New Year in China is the most interesting festival. People have many ways to celebrate it. First thing is the government gives ten days vacation time that is statutory holiday. In the holiday, people are relaxed because they just eat and play. The second way is making a feast in New Year’s Eve. People usually make fish, meat and dumplings and they watch the TV programs that they like. Before the feast, many elderly people pray to the God for luck in the future. Eating fish symbolizes that they can have money and food for next year. Eating dumplings means the family can get together in the New Year. The third way is playing with fireworks. That is tradition. The legend says that there was a monster who actually hurt people, but people can drive them away by playing with fireworks. The fourth way is wearing new clothes. People usually like red color clothes in New Year. The red color symbolizes that the lives of people will get happier. In conclusion, in the Chinese New Year, people are happy and excited to celebrate the festival.”

Weifang, China

How Angolians Celebrate Christmas & New Year

“The Angolan people are undoubtedly very festive people. We like parties from Monday to Sunday. So, when December comes, all the people who live outside the country come back to Angola for family parties. Because Christmas is so sacred to Angolans, here is what we do on Christmas. First, everyone spends Christmas in the largest house in the family. It could be the grandfather’s or an uncle’s house. Second, we buy lots of food and drinks for a three-day party. The food is the traditional turkey, panettone, rice, chocolate cake, pudding cake and a lot of other Angolan food.  As a family, we make a gift game called ‘The Hidden Friend’ and so everyone gets gifts. For me, it is one of the best parts. In conclusion, in the New Year everyone goes to the island to see the fireworks.”


Christmas & New Year’s Day in Korea

“Christmas is different between Korea and the United States. Americans spend time with family on Christmas. In Korea, many people spend time with friends or lovers on Christmas. New Year’s Day is a special event in Korea. On New Year’s Day, Koreans share traditional food and visit relatives to greet each other. And, we go to visit the graves. We wear traditional clothes. Children bow to their grandparents on New Year’s Day.”

Seoul, S. Korea

Celebrating Christmas & New Year’s Eve in Columbia

“On the last days of November in Colombia, the people start getting into the Christmas spirit. For example, everyone puts a lot of colorful lights on the their houses and builds the Christmas tree and puts the images of Jesus’ birth. This is called ‘Pesebre’. On December 7th is the first party. Everybody is in their house and lights the candles. Each one that you light is about some wish. After this party comes the December 24th Christmas party in the family’s house. We make a lot of food and a lot of drinks and a lot of music. The different parties in a neighborhood can be until the next day. Finally on December 31st the new years party is the same as the Christmas party but at midnight you can eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes for the new year.”


Enjoying Christmas & New Year in Vietnam

“Christmas and New Year in Vietnam – Although Catholic is not very dominant in Vietnam, besides those who celebrate Christmas religiously, a lot of atheists and people of different religions do enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. There are special promotions and interesting events during Christmas and that draws non-Catholics into the holiday vibe. After Christmas comes New Year. However, Vietnamese people only started to celebrate western New Year widely perhaps a decade ago. Instead, they still focus more on the lunar new year, which has been part of their culture for more than thousands of years now. Relatives and friends would visit each other’s homes to wish them luck and bring them gifts. During the Lunar New Year, children often receive lucky money in red envelopes. This is also the time for special traditional treats which could be harder to find in any other occasion of the year. ‘Ao dai’, Vietnamese traditional dress, is trendy more than ever during these holidays as well.”


Christmas Spirit in Brazil

“Over time, the Christmas spirit is being lost, but in many families it is still very traditional. Everyone helps to assemble the Christmas tree, and the presents are placed next to it. They make lots of food to eat together with their family and friends. Some foods are more delicious than others. Some families celebrate on the 24th at night, and others midday on the 25th. For them it is the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, so it means a day of peace, respect, and love for others. This date is very good for you to visit your relatives who live far away and make the most of time with them.”


Celebrating Christmas in Africa is Festive & Loud

“Christmas in the African continent is festive, colorful… And loud! It is the most popular holiday in all of Africa. Africa is known to party big. Christmas and New Year is just the perfect time to get out and enjoy the company of your family and old friends, preferably over bottles of cold drinks and yummy meals. People play mostly in the morning Christmas music. The cities become empty at that time. In some African countries, people travel to their villages. Food and drinks are not the only things people share. Christmas gifts are popular and the most common gift items include money, clothes, devices, food items, livestock, etc.”

Congo, Africa

Celebrating New Year in China

“In this world, there are two parts. There is the west and the east. Eastern people are totally different from Western people. Chinese people focus more on New Year. On New Year’s Day, the Chinese will eat dinner with all the family members together. However, only the young Chinese like Christmas. Only couples watch movies, and they eat together. 2019’s New Year is February 5th.”

Jiang Xi, China

Celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr

“Hello, my name is Safura. I am from Hyderabad, India. Our holiday season from where I come from is know as Eid-ul-Fitr. We celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr as a result of fasting for 30 days. The 30 days, which is technically a month, has a name in Muslim calendar known as Ramadan. Every aged Muslim starting from 7, fasts from sunrise to sunset. We Muslims are not supposed to eat anything between this time. We believe that fasting cleanses our body, keeps us from committing sin, and teaches us patience. Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the most auspicious days in a Muslim’s life because on the last day of Ramadan (fasting) we gear up to wear new clothes, and get excited for gifts and sweets like hyderabadi. Muslims are well known for biryani and sewaiyan (thin noodles with milk), so on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr we start our day with eating a date [fruit] and going to pray at a mosque. Then we come home and eat all the food that our mothers made, and finally receive gifts. This is our holiday. This is what excites me the most. [In 2019, Eid-ul-Fitr will start in the evening on June 3rd and end in the evening on June 4th.]”

Hyderabad, India

Christmas Celebrations in Vietnam

“When I was a little kid, my family liked to celebrate a small Christmas part at home. In the beginning of December, my dad and I designed some Christmas photos to stick on the wall and made a Christmas tree in the living room. On Christmas Eve, my mom cooked a lot of Vietnamese food and some chocolate cakes for dinner. Everyone had to talk to each other, had some history stories about parents’ lives. However, when I grew up, we didn’t celebrate our Christmas party a lot because my parents were busy working. One year, my mother’s family started to celebrate Christmas, so we joined my mother’s side of the family for Christmas and we enjoyed Vietnamese food and family stories.”


Many People Celebrate Christmas in Turkey

“Christmas Celebration in Turkey – In Turkey, half of the people don’t celebrate Christmas because they think ‘We are so Muslim, and there isn’t a celebration for Christmas in Islam.’ However, half of the people celebrate Christmas because the new year is coming and they are happy. In my family, there is a celebration for Christmas, and we buy a Christmas tree and a lot of gifts. My mother cooks a meal for Christmas and we eat a good dinner. For example, turkey. For the New Year, we count back from ten. We are very happy and dancing because we celebrate a new year. However, in Islam there isn’t a Christmas celebration, and a lot of people react to celebrating people. They kill a lot of people because of Christmas celebration. They are terrorists. In Islam, there isn’t killing of people. Everybody is free. And there are, in my country, a lot of people who celebrate Christmas and everywhere there are a lot of lights and decorated trees. In the past, they gathered in the square for a celebration, but the government has removed [this gathering] for safety. Finally, the Christmas is celebrated by a lot of people in my country, but isn’t celebrated religiously.”


Traditional Venezuelan Christmas Celebration

“Traditionally, in my country, families meet on the night of December 24 and enjoy a dinner until 12 o’clock. At that time, twelve grapes are eaten (one for each bell of the clock) to celebrate that it is Christmas. The younger ones go out with their friends until the next morning, and kids sleep hoping that when they wake up Santa Claus (‘San Nicolas’) or the ‘Child Jesus’ has left their gifts under the Christmas tree or at the ‘Pesebre’. On December 25th, the family and friends meet again and enjoy the Christmas lunch. At 6pm, the people go to the religious celebration and that way conclude Christmas celebration.”


Excel English Institute Holiday Celebration

At Excel, we celebrated with our students by singing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ in chorus with all the class from beginning to advanced including TOEFL and the business students. We also shared songs that classes rehearsed. Afterwards, we had a social gathering around apple cider and cake.

Happy Holidays!
See you next year!

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