Celebrating Christmas Somewhere New!

Photo by Sapan Patel on Unsplash

By Olivia Bastin

Who doesn’t like Christmas? The festive period filled with yummy food, merry carols, finding your inner artist by drawing a semi realistic Rudolf, receiving cute Christmas cards, and best of all the presents! Christmas is celebrated differently all over the world. I’ve had a lot of British Christmas’s at home. However, I celebrated Christmas with a good friend of mine in Venice, Italy so I thought I’d reflect on a typical British and Italian Christmas.

I’ve always wondered what the Mediterranean looks like at Christmas and 2 years ago I found out. It looks just as beautiful as it does during the summer except it’s a bit colder and when I splashed about in the water I got some odd looks from the few Italians sitting on the sand in puffy winter coats, wooly scarfs, and warm hats.  It was the first-time celebrating Christmas abroad!

The main impression I got was that Christmas in the UK is more commercialised whilst Christmas in Italy had a more religious element to it. Even when we were driving through the countryside, there were several nativity scenes beside bus stops and at the side of the road. On New Year’s Eve my friend, her family, and I all went to their local church and attended midnight mass. The service generally felt very reflective and calm until the moment when the priest brought out the wine and bread; everyone stampeded up to the altar and nearly knocked the poor guy over. That is just an ordinary Italian Christmas experience!

As is eating seafood instead of turkey which we do in Britain. I suppose turkey is out and seafood is in. In France, most people have a big meal the night before Christmas day called a reveillions. You would find foie gras, a goose, and marrion glase on the Christmas table. Another interesting difference I noticed was that in the UK we open our presents on Christmas day whereas in Italy they open presents the night before. I remember rushing down the stairs to enthusiastically see a bundle of brightly coloured presents pouring out of my Christmas stocking. In Italy, they put the Christmas presents underneath the tree like we do in the UK too. 

Overall, I loved experiencing Christmas in Italy, and I would totally recommend trying Christmas somewhere new. Why not create new traditions? Make new memories? Aren’t you curious to see how this Christian holiday is celebrated all over the world? Clearly, Christmas is a special time of year wherever you are in the world! 

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