Cross cultural Christmas

Posted on: Domingo 11 diciembre 2005

After church I spoke with R, the wife of Dr.W, the Hebrew teacher who taught D last year. I have the feeling that she is not only from German origins, but must have been raised in her mother-tongue as well. She still speaks English with a German accent, and often children from immigrants don’t have any (other than Canadian, eh!)

Ah, how I would like to get the chance to practice the language before I forget everything! Of course this won’t totally happen, but I’d like to do some progress as well, and I know that this is totally impossible here.

We chatted a bit about how we like to spend Christmas… How funny, since those thoughts are the ones that came to my mind so many times this week! I guess it’s what happens, since it’s the season, and also the material for the sermon that we had just heard.
I’ve realized once more that the big difference between Christmas in Europe and North America, in general, is that Christmas has is seen more as a social event here. In the next two week I’m invited to: a Christmas lunch with the co-workers at the office, a Christmas Staff party with one of the music schools (spouses are invited), a gift exchange with the other school, and… the Christmas concert that has been rehearsing since the beginning of November!

The decoration also is more fussy. You need lights on your windows, a big tree (it’s always best if it shows from the front yard, so the neighbors see it too!). In some neighborhoods, it seems to me houses are competing to see who will be more flashy. *sigh* Unfortunately, they don’t often compete about good taste!

While in France, I remember we would lightly speak about what gifts we would get or give. Of course, then the family is the center of the attention: where are we going to have Christmas supper this year? Why is aunt X not giving gifts to nephew Y? Don’t forget to send the cards before the end of the week!

This past 3 years, since D and I have been celebrating as a married couple, we have wanted to concentrate on the real meaning of the day, which is the birth of Christ, the Saviour of all men. I like to do nothing more than going to church the 24th at night, then prepare something good to eat the next day (and since I like surprises, to give something to D when he wakes up is also fun!)

Coming back to R, she agreed with me when I said: “We like to be quiet during Christmas and New Year, it allows us to concentrate on what is most important”.



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