When it comes to the most festive time of the year – we all have our very own Christmas traditions.
There was a major feeling of Nostalgia in the office this week when we all were reminiscing about Christmas at home with our families and how we can’t wait for it to be that time of year again.
Tradition is important no matter where you are from and if you would like to get a closer look at the people behind Careertrotter – this is the blog to do it. When it comes to working abroad – it can be a major comfort to brings traditions from home with you – especially when you don’t plan on heading back home this year like some of us.
Welcome to the Christmas Traditions of the Careertrotter Team – here you will get a taste of what Christmas is like in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Romania. You would be surprised at how some our various cultural traditions have some similarities.
Christmas in the Netherlands
With 3 Dutch Speakers in the Office - See if their Christmas Traditions are similar
With the whole family back home, sleeping over, Christmas Day kicks off with a big breakfast in pyjamas. It’s a quiet and easy morning, with coffee & sweets. After changing and dressing up we all go out for a walk on the beach. Fresh air and a good walk, after all the food we’ve already had and for all the food what will follow. Coming home we will start with a ‘borrel’, in the Netherlands usual which is nice snacks, finger food and a glass of good wine in front of the fireplace.
While preparing dinner and helping in the kitchen, getting the table ready, we’ll have a lovely 4 course homemade dinner. After dinner we love to play some family games or watch our favourite ‘All you need is Love Christmas Edition’ a Dutch programme who will reunite families living around the world for Christmas, which will always bring us (the ladies) to tears. No presents for us in the Netherlands, but a lot of love, food and fun!
The week before Christmas I normally take off to travel with my partner to some destination in Europe and unwind after a busy year of work. Around the 24th of December we make sure to get to my home town: 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. The 24th traditionally is meeting up with my best friend with his girlfriend, plus some more friends who made it to 's-Hertogenbosch on time and check-in to the Mövenpick hotel where we all stay for some days. We usually head to the city centre for dinner, attend the night mass at St. John's Cathedral and have drinks afterwards while playing the board game Risk. Every year that 24th is a long evening till the early hours of the morning as we won't stop that game until we have a winner!
Being married to a lovely Irish lady my Dutch traditions versus my Irish traditions vary slightly
Dutch Christmas Traditions
Christmas eve is going to church and often there is choice between a traditional service at 7 or perhaps a late night service at 12 that might be outdoors. Before or after service depending on which one I go to we watch the Christmas special of “all you need is love”. Christmas morning starts with a family breakfast followed by a Church service and then usually some chill out time with a few drinks and light snacks. Even though I say light snacks there is enough and around 2pm we often go for a big family walk to get fresh air and get ready for the big dinner. Back at home we then start preparing a big Christmas dinner which often has 3 courses followed perhaps by a good movie or everybody reading a good book on the couch.
Irish Christmas Traditions
The Irish tradition is slightly different as no Church on Christmas eve but a pint or two in the pub with friends or my father in law. Christmas morning is first of all about opening Christmas presents which as a Dutch person I'm still not fully used to. We go to mass and following that we all watch some TV and snack a bit until the Turkey dinner is served. After dinner is finished we often watch a traditional Christmas movie like ‘’Home Alone’’ while snacking on more chocolate and other yummy food.
Both days are great days that make me want to go the gym the next day. But a great day spent with loved ones.
Christmas in Ireland
Christmas Eve is a fairly busy day of preparing the house and the food (Turkey & Ham) for the big day tomorrow. Sometimes we go to mass the night before or on Christmas morning, it really depends on how we feel that year.
On Christmas day we all wake up at the crack of dawn, we check our Christmas stockings that are hung on our doors. We all pile into the one room to share our loot and eventually attempt to wake our parents. After a lot of teasing my younger brothers and sister we let them into the sitting room to see what St. Nick has brought.
It’s a great morning of screaming and laughing with presents and free flowing coffee and tea. Eventually when the dust has settled and voices have gone horse we sit and have breakfast together.
While the younger ones play with their toys, the rest of us clean up and prepare for dinner and relatives to come for dinner. After dinner, there is round 2 of presents – the presents we bought for one another, wrapping paper is flung about, ribbons have found themselves in our hair and over lampshades, even the dog now has a ribbon collar but we all love it. We end the day with leftover Turkey sandwiches and Christmas movies.
Christmas in Germany
2 German Speakers who lived miles and miles away from each other have some fairly similar Christmas Traditions.
As I’m German we celebrate on the 24th: Christmas Eve, I always spend the evening with my family at my grandparents’ house, later we then set up the tree and decorate it together while we listen to festive music (mainly ‘’Last Christmas’’ non-stop), after we have dinner together – Typical German: Bratwürste with Sauerkraut and when I was a kid I would have gotten presents after dinner (this means I was waiting all day to get them & I was really impatient).
A family member of mine used to ring bells secretly and scattered glitter into the snow outside the window so that I knew ‘’Christ Child’’ had left presents for me under the tree and I would spend the entire evening unwrapping presents with my family. On the 25th of December we eat a Christmas Goose and relax with mulled wine and homemade Christmas Cookies.
The 24th is when all the magic and presents happen. Around 4pm my family and some friends would go to the town hall for Carol singing outside with some mulled wine to keep us warm.
Once we get home there is tea, biscuit’s and presents with festive music and lighting candles. We all cook together (usually 3 courses) and sit down together to eat. Later we go to a late mass (My friend & myself) On the 25th we have a lot of leftovers and we relax all day in our PJ’s and watch Christmas movies, we might go for a walk if the weather is nice and in the evening, we finish off the day with a lovely dinner in our neighbours.
Christmas in France
For me & my family the big celebrations happen on the 24th, we start preparing the food in the evening and usually eat around 10pm. We like to eat the same thing each year as it is a sign to all of us that it is finally Christmas. As my brother and I are both working abroad it’s great to get back to home and celebrate together in the way we did as children.
After dinner we usually all move to the living room and watch cartoons or a Christmas movie because we have to wait to open presents at 12am. After all that we eventually go to bed and get ready to attack the lunch with the rest of the family that is waiting for us on the 25th.
Christmas in Romania
There are a few differences between our 2 Romanian Speakers - Can you see?
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are both a big deal in my family – it seemed to be the same for all in Transylvania. Family and friends would go to each other’s houses in groups and once they got there they would sing songs outside their house (almost as if to gain passage to the friends house). Once they are in there is a lot of food and drink and once finished you go onto the next house with the people from the previous house. This is the definition of a messy night but it’s all great fun, it usually finishes at dawn when some go to mass and then onto Christmas Dinner.
Dinner involves Pork, lots of platters and salads for starters with cold meats, cheese, pickles and many cakes. We have a specific dish ‘’Sarmale’’ which is pork mince mixed with tomato sauce and bacon and it’s all wrapped in cabbage leaves which are boiled and roasted and you can dip them in sour cream.
A traditional dessert we have is ‘’Cozonac’’ a baked sweet dough with either poppy seeds or walnuts inside – its delicious.
All in All a lot of food and drink is involved.
For me we prepare traditional Christmas food on Christmas Eve, along with children going door to door singing Christmas carols and in exchange people would give them sweets. On Christmas day we would all go to mass and after we would give small presents to people in need. Then our family gets together and we celebrate with a lot of food and drink and share presents with one another and then presents for the children that was brought by Sfantul Nicolae.
There you have it, Your Careertrotter Team and our Christmas Traditions. Christmas means something different to those across the sea and we all have our own traditions. Whether you live 5 minutes away in the same country or 6 hours - Each person's traditions have their own little personal twists.
From all of us here at Careertrotter - Merry Christmas & Happy New Year