Christmas, a family focused event. How would you celebrate this Christian event when you are fare away from your friends and family? This is my experience of celebrating Christmas in Tanzania, Taiwan and London.
My first experience of Christmas was in Tanzania. Tanzania is after the colonization a Christian country. However if you go out on the street you don’t really feel the Christmas spirit as in the Western countries. Commercialisation during this time isn’t present, which is a relief and on Christmas day it is very quiet on the street. People go to church and then come together with their family and eat ugali (corn mush).
We went to a pizzeria in Dar es Salaam. It is weird to celebrate Christmas with 34 degrees Celsius. In the restaurant the waitress were wearing Christmas hats and there was some Christmas music in the background. We were one of the few customers and the streets were deserted. However it was good to go out with your friends, to have at least a small celebration.
Taiwan itself doesn’t celebrate Christmas. During Chirstmas and New Year there is also no holiday on your university. These are just no days that are celebrated here. However yo u can still go out with some friends to create your own very nice Christmas dinner. Besides that as an exchange student you are very flexible, so to compensate this you skip some lecturers and book a flight with two friends to the Philippines.
The Philippines are very Christian, and are completely in the Christmas spirit. Where ever you go you will find very creative Christmas decoration. We found Christmas trees made of old plastic bottles, and they look marvelous.
Christmas Eve is the most important moment. The whole country will stay awake and will go to the evening mask. After that the door of the houses will open and you will go around your neighborhood to wish everyone Merry Christmas. Of course there will be loads of food everywhere. No better way to celebrate Christmas in a tropical country than in the Philippines.
To be very honest, I didn’t celebrate Christmas in London yet. Last year I went back to the Netherlands to celebrate it with my parents. However there are loads of Christmas activities in London around that time.
Most important for me is Winter Wonderland, a fair with loads of attractions in Hyde Park and some Christmas stalls. But also don’t forget the lights in Oxford Circus, Christmas markets and ice skating rinks around the city and the festive shows that are going on at that time.
While Christmas is a family tradition and the best way to celebrate this for me would be to have a very nice dinner with your family, there are still loads of other ways to celebrate Christmas when your family isn’t around.
If you are in the right country where they celebrate Christmas as well, there is most of the time something that you could do to bring you in the Christmas spirit. If this isn’t the case, find some friends, and make some nice festive dinner together.
I am curious how you guys are celebrating Christmas and if you are still celebrating it in your home country or not? Please let me know in the comments how and where you celebrate Christmas.