International Christmas Traditions

Article by: Beatriz C.

Edited by: Meg B.

Visual by: Patrick P.

Although Christmas has begun early as per usual here in the Philippines, it is finally beginning to feel like Christmas in the rest of the world. As homes are being decorated and choirs are caroling in the streets, the air is already filled with Christmas spirit!

Christmas is such a widely celebrated festivity, yet, different cultures and communities celebrate it in so many different ways. Being an international school, ISM is home to students from over 80 nationalities, creating an extremely diverse community. Within one culture alone, different families have different traditions of how to celebrate the joy filled holiday of Christmas- but with ISM hosting so many different nationalities, there is an amazing range of beautiful and culturally rich traditions during Christmas season.

German Sophomore Katharina G. proudly says, “A Christmas tradition that we have in Germany is going to a Christmas market. The market usually starts a week before Christmas, and they put a giant Christmas tree in the center of the market and then there are many stalls around it that sell mulled wine (Glühwein), gingerbread hearts, Christmas decorations, and roasted almonds.”

She adds, “Mine and most people’s favorite time to visit the market is in the late afternoon or evening, when it gets dark, starts snowing and all the fairy lights are turned on. This is one of the best Christmas traditions we have in Germany and it certainly is my favorite way of feeling the Christmas spirit.”

These beautiful Christmas markets are set up in most cities’ town squares and can be found in Germany, France, and other European countries. If you are visiting one of these countries during the winter, this is definitely something to consider visiting. Katharina recommends the Straßburg market in France!

One of the first things that may come to a lot of people’s minds when thinking about Christmas, is cookies! Cookie baking and decorating is a very common activity during the time of Christmas for many people, especially in the United States. Sophomore Leela H. says, “Every year I invite a bunch of friends over and we all bake and decorate sugar cookies together for an entire afternoon. It started as a fun church activity my grandma’s church would do back when she was a little girl, and since she wanted the same experience for her daughters, she got them to invite their friends over and do the same. It’s been a family tradition ever since.”

Finally, Filipino-Chinese Junior Amanda C. celebrates a typical Filipino Noche Buena Feast. She says, “In the Philippines we have something called Noche Buena, which is a feast we have on Christmas Eve. Our entire family comes together on the night of Christmas Eve and we spend time together waiting for Christmas to strike, before enjoying a really delicious feast with fruit cake, lots of meat dishes like ham and queso de bola! There is always a lot of preparation involved for this feast, since Christmas is such a big deal in our country, but it’s always worth it!”

In what way do you celebrate the Christmas holidays?

BT wishes all Bearcats a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!