How We Celebrate Our Holidays Around the World

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Every culture, every country, and every family has its own particularity for the holidays. Nevertheless, the arrival of winter holidays brings excitement shared between all. Students, here at IE, come from many different corners of the world. In the spirit of the season, IE students were interviewed about their personal traditions from back home. 

Not so far from campus, students from Segovia shared what happened while the rest of us were absent. Inés’ favorite Christmas tradition, “la carrera del pavo”, or the turkey race. It is an exciting race where participants push themselves around the entire town on bicycles without chains. She also shared a familial addition to the tradition, on Christmas morning, she and her family go eat churros before enjoying the thrill of this fun race. 

Hopping over to Egypt, Marwan described the holidays as having tasty food with his loved ones. He shared his favorite dish, fateer, “ a few layers of bread, and we normally have it with honey… it’s a family thing.” 

Although many set up decorations as early as November, the Philippines takes this to a whole other level. Juancho explained that Christmas starts from the first ‘ber’ month, September. He also mentioned a typical decoration called the Parol, which are Christmas lights made of capiz –  seashells.

In Venezuela, the tradition is to make hallacas with the family, a special dish only supposed to be done for Christmas. Karina explained, “Our whole family sits around the table, we pass around the ingredients, and form it together. Then, we eat!” Chileans adopt a more modern custom. Matías explained that there is a saying going around the country, “when one doesn’t watch Home Alone, it feels like Christmas is not complete… they didn’t celebrate it properly”.

Moving a bit north to Mexico, they entertain a very particular holiday tradition. They cut a Rosca de Reyes – a ring-shaped cake with a baby Jesus hidden inside. As Gerardo said, “the rules state that the person who gets the baby in their slice, needs to pay the tamales on February 2nd (Día de la Candelaria)”. Similarly, the French La Galette des Rois – an almond-based cake with a hidden trinket, is eaten the first Sunday of January. The tradition states that the youngest member of the family must duck under the table (while someone cuts the cake), and dictate which piece goes to whom. Afterwards, the person who was given the trinket is considered to be the king or queen, and is awarded with a crown.

In Italy, Nico mentioned how his family, as a tradition, “before opening the presents on the 25th, we usually kill a cow (or some animal) that we will eat for lunch.” That being said, his friend (and fellow Italian), Leo was surprised and countered by saying that he has never killed an animal in his life; so Nico’s response was a nonchalant “you’re not Italian”. Instead, Leo says that they play Tombola, “it’s a kind of bingo but it’s traditional Italian […] it has existed for hundreds of years.”

The beauty of our diverse, international environment is apparent in these moments. To conclude this article, the Stork team hopes you had a phenomenal break with loved ones; whether you went home, on vacation, or stayed local. Most importantly, good luck in this new semester.

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