Log In

Reset Password

A festive trip around the world

First Prev 1 2 3 Next Last

Christmas pudding, cassava pie and eggnog.

These are just some of the things that make up a Bermuda Christmas. But how is the holiday celebrated in other parts of the world?

The Royal Gazette asked a handful of residents to share their unique traditions back home.

Aurélie Bazile grew up in Grenoble, a city in southeastern France. Her family would typically get together for a big celebration on Christmas Eve, she said.

“We would share a big meal complete with snails, oysters, turkey with chestnuts, onion ham.

“For dessert we would have a bûche de Noël and don't forget the cheese before that.”

Her family would drink their best wine, which had been stored all year in her father's wine cellar. Then they would finish dinner with a digestif.

“When everybody was full we would go to the midnight mass,” she continued.

“Then when we came home the children would make sure to put a nectarine and a glass of milk by the tree for Santa to have.

“We would go to bed and open presents first thing in the morning when everybody was up. But I also knew of some people who would open presents when they came back from church.”

Sirilak Yodpanya is originally from a small town called Phayao, located to the north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Although it's primarily a Buddhist country, she said there were some missionaries in her area who taught the children about Christmas.

“During the Christmas period, multinational priests and volunteers would invite the local community to join them in their annual celebration,” she said.

“As a young Buddhist child who had never been to the capital city, let alone out of Thailand, the opportunity to watch a charming nativity play with animals, kings and a star all focusing on a newborn baby was fascinating.

“We got to hear jolly, festive carols and received small intriguing gifts, however, we didn't know what we had done to deserve these.

“Christmas was also a time for us to sit in pews — not on floors in temples like we were used to — in beautifully decorated churches, which filled us with the most wondrous and spectacular curiosity ever.”

She said the holiday was a reminder to her to show respect, patience and compassion towards others, regardless of their religion and nationality.

Kenyan Davis Mwangi said Christmas back home wouldn't be the same if family didn't gather from near and far to celebrate.

“In Kenya, everyone in the city leaves to go to their rural home to be with the rest of the family. They bring gifts to the family,” he said.

“In the city during Christmas it's like a ghost town. But in the villages it's very festive. We celebrate together and a lamb or a goat is slaughtered.

“We also have a big BBQ accompanied with drinks, chapatti and salads. As for those families who can't afford a goat, they usually have a chicken stew and chapattis. That's our Christmas.”

Ian Hind said the holidays in Scotland were quite similar to the ones in England.

“We start the day with a light breakfast and open all the presents,” Mr Hind explained.

“People might come and go from your house throughout the day and in the evening we have a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

“Then the older ones will turn on the BBC to watch the Queen's Christmas message or there's usually a good movie on the TV, showing classics like It's a Wonderful Life.”

The day ends after everyone is “completely stuffed to the gills”.

Nuno Fagundo said that music can be heard in the streets all day and night in the Azores at Christmas.

“They would decorate all the streets with lights — and the best part of all was that our parents used to take all our presents to the town hall.

“There they would have a person dressed up as Santa Claus, who would distribute all the presents to the children on Christmas night. It was pretty awesome!

“I will never forget those days, especially when it comes to food. We used to eat codfish or goat. There was a lot of meaning behind the celebration, whereas nowadays the holiday is all about money.”

Bettina Strobel said her family in Bavaria, Germany held a gift exchange on Christmas Eve.

“Usually the Christmas tree was secretly decorated on the 24th as well,” she said.

“Our living room door would be locked the whole day on Christmas Eve.

“I remember being in the next room with my ears on the wall trying to listen to hear if something was happening. Then the family went to church in the evening and my mom would sneak out from the service and put all the presents under the tree.

“When we came home after church the tree was lit and Christmas music was playing. The gifts were under the tree and it smelled like fir everywhere. Nobody used plastic trees in Germany — only real fir trees.”

There was always snow on Christmas Day, she said.

Her family would typically feast on German potato salad and sausage — nobody wanted to stay in the kitchen for hours over the holiday.

Orville Campbell said traditional Christmas trees didn't have much significance for him growing up in Jamaica.

Instead his family would decorate a tree in their backyard and extend an electrical cord from the house to light it.

He said the meal preparations for the holiday would start with “the big kill”, the Saturday before the holiday.

“Just days shy of Christmas, all the farmers who had been saving their best picked animals year around (sometimes years), would finally put them up for slaughter,” he explained. “This, of course, was a big deal, because many people within the district did not have the privilege of owning animals to kill. Those who did would inform the other residents many days in advance, so orders could be placed.

“My family would slaughter a pig, a goat and on occasion, we would sell one of our cows to a registered butcher, who had a larger market to supply.”

The Christmas meal would be made complete with brown pork stew, curried goat, gungo peas and rice and sorrel wine, which was brewed over the wood-burning fire.

“If you are a true Jamaican, you know that it's not Christmas without the black rum cake,” he said.

“It's certain that the black, almost golden rich in beauty, succulent and flavourfully delectable dessert — which is the ultra enemy of all diets — will be at any Jamaican Christmas.

“And everyone must have a piece, in fact you cannot resist the urge to do so.”

Buddhist upbringing: Yodpanya is originally from a town called Phayao, to the north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is pictured above with her family at Christmas in Bermuda
@photocaption, Bazile, with her daughter Lily, grew up in Grenoble, France
Bettina Strobel said her family traditionally held a gift exchange on Christmas Eve in Germany

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published December 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm (Updated December 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm)

A festive trip around the world

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon