‘Tis the season to be jolly! Christmas is drawing ever near and not everybody celebrates the global festival the same, so we decided to interview some students to discover how they celebrate Christmas. Settle down with a mince pie and a cup of warm hot chocolate for this cosy read embracing the diversity at Middlesex.
In Spain we eat turron, a sweet that looks like chocolate and is hard for the teeth but delicious. We decorate the Christmas tree and children expect Papá Noel (Santa Claus in Spanish) like in every other country in the world.
On December 31st at 11:59pm, we prepare for the twelve bells that welcome the new year. With each bell we eat a grape and think of a wish. After the twelve grapes, we are officially in the new year. But not everybody is able to eat them all, it’s not easy.
The night of January 6th, the children wait for the Reyes Magos (the three kings that visited Jesus) who leave three gifts under the tree. It depends whether the family celebrate/believe in Papá Noel or Los Reyes Magos. And the next day, there is a parade in every city in Spain where people dressed as the three kings throw candy to the people.
And that is pretty much the Spanish Christmas.
In Lithuania, we actually celebrate on Christmas Eve more than on Christmas day. So on Christmas Eve, we have dinner with twelve different dishes on the table. However, we can’t eat any meat or drink alcohol or anything like that (it is our tradition/religion). So it is mainly fish and other traditional Lithuanian meals.
Before we eat, the youngest person at the table reads out a prayer and then we get the sacramental bread that we pick up from the church and put a bit of it in every dish. We usually exchange gifts on Christmas eve too and then go the main church in the city centre at the end of the night for a ceremony.
On Christmas day, we get to eat the meat and all the salads and we drink a lot. It’s more of a chill day and my family and I just stay home and watch TV and play board games or go ice skating. Then the second day of Christmas, which is boxing day here in England, is just the same as the first day of Christmas.
Christmas was such an exciting period growing up with a large family. My favourite parts were the morning and evening. My parents would wrap the presents and decorate everything before we went to sleep. When I would wake up and walk into the living room I would always get butterflies wondering what they had planned. I would check which presents were mine and move the box around trying to guess what they had gotten me. Then I would put them back and pretend I didn’t look at them.
We are Caribbean so our Christmas breakfast was salmon and callaloo. My uncles would come round with my cousins and we would open our presents together. My parents always brought us the best presents even if they were not expensive.
Next, we would get ready. Normally, our mum would do our hair the night before otherwise it would take too long on the day and it would be hectic. I would put on a pretty dress- Christmas was practically the only time I wore one. We would have lunch at my aunt’s which was quite formal in a way as my dad’s side of the family is quite small. It was always lunch then presents. We would have chicken, Brussel sprouts and gravy but with rice and peas and fried dumplings. My parents and my sister and I would always eat small because we knew the party started later. We would open our presents, hug and kiss everyone and make an excuse and rush off.
After that, we would go home and put on normal clothes and go to my nan’s. The house would be full of family and plenty of children to play with. At some point, we all did the famous step photo where we all took turns sittings on the stairs to take photos, sometimes all the grandchildren would have to cram ourselves on the step together.
My nan is the best cook in the world. She would make everything. We would also have my uncle’s famous macaroni cheese, my great great aunt’s passed down recipe of Caribbean black cake, curry lamb, dumplings and more. Once everyone was stuffed, all the kids would squeeze around the Christmas tree to open our presents.
But even though the presents were great, when I woke in the morning, the main thing I was happy about was the fact all my favourite people were squeezed together in the same place.
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