The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

How Christmas is celebrated around the world

Learn how different countries celebrate Christmas. What foods do they eat? When are the public holidays? What activities do students take part in?

share image

Whether you're staying in your study destination for Christmas, or you're going home, you should take advantage of celebrating the festivities in a different culture. Participate in these different traditions, especially if you're feeling homesick and you need something to take your mind off Christmas at home.

 

So, how do people in the UK, America and Australia celebrate Christmas and what do they do for the end-of-year, holiday period?

 

Christmas in America

Americans are in the festive spirit from Thanksgiving at the end of November, through to December and for the rest of the month. The celebration’s roots belong to a literal Puritan giving of thanks for a healthy harvest in the 1600s. This sentiment is carried forward today, with families and friends gathering for a meal to give thanks for what they have. Turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are foods traditionally consumed as part of this large meal. Several major cities will host public parades which are televised; one of the more famous ones is the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Watching American Football games on television are another tradition in homes across the countries, particularly amongst men.

 

The Friday after Thanksgiving (the last of the month) is considered the official beginning of the shopping season in the run-up to Christmas and has been coined 'Black Friday'. In recent years, retail shops will have promotions beginning on this day to encourage shoppers to buy; you may be able to get a great deal on a piece of technology you really need.

 

Another Christmas tradition which you can expect in the weeks that follow is carol singing, whereby groups knock on doors in the local neighbourhood and perform festive songs like ‘Silent Night’ for those inside (usually for charity). Ice skating at local ice rinks and then enjoying a mug of hot chocolate indoors afterwards, is also a festive season treat.

 

In America, the general greeting to give others is "Happy Holidays" to save causing offence when wishing someone who is not a Christian (Americans can take political correctness quite seriously). One of the most popular Christmas films is It’s a Wonderful Life, an uplifting tale of reaffirmation in the human spirit which will certainly bring a tear to your eye.

 

However, take note that Americans do not celebrate Boxing Day as a public holiday, and many go straight back to work away after Christmas Day.

 

Christmas in the UK

There is a lot of overlap between festive traditions in the UK with those in the US (listed above), especially when it comes to present-buying and the commercial side of Christmas. However, there are a few Britain-exclusive traditions too. For one thing, you’ll find a little something extra on the table for your meal on Christmas Day: Christmas crackers! These are pulled in opposite directions by two people until they bang (don’t worry, they’re not very loud). The person who has the majority of the cracker is the “winner”. Inside is a paper crown hat, a small toy or gift, and a joke (which is usually notoriously bad).

 

Another British tradition is to watch the Queen’s Speech on television, a recorded message from the Queen, in the afternoon after the lunchtime meal. It is watched by millions up and down the country, and in it, the Queen will reflect on the past 12 months, while looking ahead to the next year. More recently, that year's Christmas special of Dr. Who has become essential family viewing too.

 

 

Britain also has Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, which is also a public holiday. Boxing Day sales, similar to America’s "Black Friday", sees prices on retail goods slashed and mass-buying taking place to find a bargain.

 

Read about international student Alejandra's first British Christmas as well as her tips for celebrating Christmas overseas if you don't go home for the holidays.

 

Christmas in Australia

If you get to experience Christmas in Australia, carols about ‘riding through the snow’ definitely won’t apply! Rather than sitting around a log fire indoors and out of the cold, Aussies will find time to go to the beach as well (no change there then!) And because of the hotter climate, cold meats may be served instead of or in addition to hot meats.

 

The Boxing Day test match is a big tradition in Australia, as is the case with anything cricket-related in the country. Having indulged with food the day before, you can settle down in front of the television and watch the match; or if you want to work off those calories, families will have a game of their own in the garden at a local public park or on the beach.

 

Cricket grounds across the country are not just for playing on. For over 70 years, they have been hosting Carols by Candlelight concerts on Christmas Eve, which see Australians gathering in huge numbers to sing Christmas carols alongside a live band. The biggest gathering presently takes place at Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Must read

article Img

Top five jobs for students abroad

Studying abroad and being a full-time student has many advantages. You’ll be fulfilling your academic ambitions, experiencing a new culture and hopefully getting fully involved in university life. Admittedly one of the other aspects of being a student is not always having that much disposable income available. Studying abroad can be expensive and so finding some extra money to support yourself could mean needing to find a student job. It’ll allow you to fund some

381
article Img

Top 10 job seeking tips for international students

Finding a job after university is pretty much every graduate's dream. After years of hard work and late-night cramming in the library, it’s time to enter the professional world of work to gain a well-deserved salary and experience. But how easy is it to find work as an international graduate? Well, it firstly depends on whether you have permission to remain in the country to work. This should be your first step if you wish to stay in your study destination or move

284
article Img

Opening a bank account as a study abroad student

Organising your finances is a major part of the study abroad preparation process. You need to make sure that while you’re in your new study destination, you are able to live and support yourself and have access to your money. This includes being able to pay for things such as rent, groceries, travel, books and daily living costs. To do this without paying exchange fees, it’s a good idea to open a bank account in the country you’ll be living and studying in.

253
article Img

How to revise for exams effectively

We’ve all been there. That circled date on the calendar that looms large, the feeling of anxiety at the amount of work to be done and wondering whether you’re covering the right areas. Examinations, when you’re a student, can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. However, we’re here to help you reduce that stress. We’ve got some top tips, advice and guidance on how to revise for exams, including effective study techniques. Having a good exam revision strategy goes a

125