International Holiday Traditions

By: Kyla S.

     The holiday season in near, and while most of us are accustomed to the American holiday traditions, these traditions are not universal. Have you ever wondered how the holidays are celebrated in other countries around the world? Four of Country Day’s international students have shared their experiences with us.

     Jonathan Z., an international student from China, is excited to spend the holiday season with his family back in China, although he will be missing Chinese New Year, the Chinese equivalent of our winter holidays.The New Year, which takes place around February (the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar), is a big deal in China. “We clean our house because everything has to be new, you dress in your best outfit, and eat the best food.” Elaine L., also from China, gets together with her friends and family to eat a huge meal. Much like our holidays, there are also decorations for the New Year. “They write poems and put them up on the door,” Jonathan said, “you will see everything is in red or yellow.”

     Emma R., an exchange student from South Africa, had some interesting holiday traditions. Apparently, at least for her family, “Christmas [day] isn’t really a big deal.” Her whole family gets together on Christmas Eve to have dinner and do their Christmas celebrating that night. “Christmas day is more chilled,” she says. For the most part, Emma said that her holiday traditions back home don’t differ that much from the traditions she’s heard about here in the States. The main difference is the food. In South Africa, chicken and turkey aren’t really a big deal. Gammon, which is what we would call ham, is very common in South Africa. “Steak. That’s usually what my family has,” she says. For the most part, her New Year’s and Christmas traditions are very similar to those we have here in the U.S.

     Much like Jonathan, Bruce L. was very excited to talk about the Chinese New Year. Unlike Emma, Bruce described his holiday traditions as very different from typical traditions we have here. Bruce said that on the Chinese New Year, they eat exceptional food. “You basically eat the best thing ever on New Year’s… like dumplings,” he said. Bruce also mentioned a holiday that we do not celebrate here in the U.S.: Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival, which takes place in the middle of Autumn, is a huge festival designed to celebrate the moon. In China, Bruce mentioned, people aren’t given as many days off. “We only get like three days off,” he said, as opposed to the two weeks that we get off here in the States.

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