This year we look at how you celebrate Christmas, both here in the UK and in other countries.
Christmas is normally a huge affair at my house, with the entire family descending en masse for a feast. I made a huge lifestyle choice earlier this year, by becoming vegetarian so I have been thinking about Christmas this year. It’s going to be a completely different style of Christmas and I realised that my decision would affect the rest of the household. The decisions we make have a massive impact on our families and I wondered what choices other people had made this year. Consequently, I asked students, friends and family how they would be celebrating the season.
Isobel from Northern Ireland told me, “I normally go to mum’s for Christmas, but this year she’s coming to mine.” I asked her if she had ever cooked a turkey before. “Heavens, no,” she laughed. “I’m not cooking one this year either. I’m getting a precooked selection of meat and stuffing from a local butcher!”
Halema, an English student from Bradford, provided a fascinating insight into another culture. Halema’s family originate from Pakistan but she told me, “We don’t celebrate Christmas per se, but we do get together on Christmas Day and have a halal roast dinner together.” It sounds like Christmas Day at my house. I asked if they shared gifts or wished each other a ‘Happy Christmas’ and she laughed, “No! It isn’t Christmas for us. It’s just another excuse to get together as a family.” If only the rest of us were as willing to celebrate others’ holidays in a similar manner, we would get to spend more time with our families and perhaps life would be a little more interesting.
I asked Joyce from Scotland how she would be celebrating this year. There is one thing that Joyce is quite firm about, Christmas is family day!” She does miss her Scottish roots and discusses the epic journey up to Scotland every Boxing Day with nostalgia.
Siri, an exchange student from the USA, is very excited about her Christmas plans. “I’m not going home this year,” she announced happily. “Instead I’m going on a trip through Europe, visiting Prague, Croatia and Budapest.” Siri has an aunt who lives in Budapest and will be spending the Christmas period there before taking off again in the New Year.
Another student I asked about Christmas plans was Martina, an exchange student from Italy. Martina is very happy to be going home for Christmas where she will spend the holiday with her family in central Italy. She told me that the traditional Christmas fayre tends to change “from place to place”. Her parents come from southern Italy where traditionally Christmas dinner consists of “loads of fish” but she suspects there will be copious amounts of “pasta (tortellini), and maybe some lamb”.
Martina was going to stay in the UK for Christmas, “but then I realised that everybody was going home and I was going to be alone. So I booked a ticket!”
Leeds is lucky to have such a multicultural group of students through which we can learn a lot about different lifestyles.