When hearing the word “Christmas,” most people envision the lit, forest-green tree, the piles and piles of wrapped gifts surrounding it, the milk and cookies on the coffee table waiting for Santa and the immense amounts of holiday cheer.
However, in many other places around the world, people are spending the holidays very differently. While some people in our society listen to Christmas carols or enjoy a Turkey roast during the winter season, others are taking a slightly different approach.
“After living in America for so long, my family usually sticks to the traditional Christmas dinner and gifts. However, my mom takes time preparing a Chinese Christmas dinner, which consists of egg rolls, gyoza, fish, rice cakes and occasionally some candied melon. It varies for every family,” said Tina Pan, first-year economics major.
According to Pan, Chinese Christians in China go to church services for Christmas day. However, since a small percent of China is Christian, Christmas is usually only celebrated in major cities with small trees and some caroling. Apples are of significance during the holidays because in Chinese the word “apple” is similar to the word “silent night.”
Christmas is also popular in Vietnam regardless of its religious significance.
“Christmas Eve is more significant than Christmas [day] in Vietnam. Whether Christian or not, everyone gets ecstatic when celebrating Christmas Eve. Just like the rest of my family in Vietnam, my family here decorates the entire house with sparkling lights. We usually go to midnight mass and come home to eat meat, soup and pudding. As tradition, my sisters and I also make the cake in the shape of a log for our family,” said Mona Nguyen, first-year undeclared major.
Many Vietnamese spend the holidays similarly to those in America, except with a little more exuberance. Streets in Vietnam are usually filled with life-size statues of Mary, Joseph or Jesus as well as millions of bright lights and confetti. Some French influence is still evident in Vietnam, which is why many people still make bûche de Noël, a cake in the shape of a log.
India takes a unique approach when it comes to the holiday season.
“I think Indians spend the holidays like no other culture does. Indians are very religious, therefore many people tend to fast during the holidays. Hindu New Year is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India. Usually there is a festival of lights. I have yet to see this, but I have heard that my family in India lights up clay lamps during this time,” said Nashel Patel, first-year biological sciences major.
While Patel celebrates Christmas in traditional American fashion, she still stays true to her culture by eating meat and vegetable curry along with chapatis for her Christmas dinner. Hindu New Year is one of the most important days of the year, and people celebrate with lights and holiday foods, according to Patel.
“I love spending the holidays in India. Everyone stays happy while singing songs and giving out gifts. The entire town works together to throw festivals and make grand feasts. It’s the one time of the year when you really know the true meaning of family,” Patel said.
ALICE LEE can be reached at email@example.com.