Groningen is filled with students from all over the world, each with their own Christmas traditions. In this special vacation series, we take you on a trip all over the world: international students describe their Christmas traditions during the vacations. This time we explore the Netherlands, Germany and France.
The Netherlands Let’s begin with the Netherlands. Laura research studies International Communication at Hanze. How does she commemorate the holidays? ‘After Sinterklaas, a Dutch tradition with a Santa Claus lookalike on 5 December, we buy a Christmas tree for our homes. On 25 and 26 December people come together with their households. One distinct custom about this is that rather some individuals do “gourmetten” (grilling your own food on a hot stone, ed.) on one of these days. Aside from consuming lots of food, we provide presents. On Three King’s Day, 6 January, we throw away the Christmas tree.’
Moving on from the Netherlands we go to their neighbors, the Germans. For Annika Horstmann, a German International Interaction trainee, Christmas starts on 24 December. ‘On Christmas Eve, we get together with the whole household and have a big supper with normal German food. Before or after the supper, we do something called ‘Bescherung’, which means that everyone gets their presents. We also commemorate 25 and 26 December as Christmas days, when we just eat a lot and spend quality time with household.’
France From Germany we move southeast and end up in France. International Interaction student Melissa tells us about their Christmas traditions. ‘On the Fêtes des Rois (Three Kings, 6 January, ed.) day we will get a cake that is called Galette des Rois. Inside, there is a little figure that is called Fève. Whoever gets the slice with the figure, gets a crown and is the King or Queen. I specifically took pleasure in that as a kid and even discovered a French bakeshop in The Hague that does this conventional cake just like in France. We call the evening of 24 December Réveillon, when the family meets and has a big and long dinner together and stays up till after midnight. On Christmas early morning, my household exchanges gifts. For my family, the 25th is the day on which we will fulfill up to have a large and exceptionally long lunch or dinner together. Something quite special is that we consume fish throughout these meals.’
Teodor Nedyalkov and Aila Kubat