Celebrating Christmas Overseas

Mark S

If it’s your first time celebrating Christmas overseas, it’s natural to get a little homesick. Christmas is one of those holidays that we experience with our families, and we often have a long list of traditions that we do as a family every year, making it a hard time, especially if it’s your first time living abroad. 
But celebrating Christmas overseas can be a great way to get to know a new culture, and you’ll be surprised by just how many countries have Christmas decorations on their main streets, in shop windows and in hotels.

Celebrating Christmas Overseas

While celebrating Christmas overseas may not be anything like the way you celebrate Christmas at home, it can definitely still be a special and memorable experience. The trick is to celebrate local Christmas traditions and take the time to learn about how Christmas is celebrated in your new home.This may mean eating dumplings in China or exchanging gifts later or earlier than usual in Latin America, but choosing to step slightly out of your Christmas comfort zone can help you get to know a culture- and who knows- you may end up finding some new traditions to take home with you.

This can also be a great time to invite friends and family to visit. If you have friends or family who are hoping to do some travel and are interested in visiting you at some stage, why not make it during the holiday season? This can be a great way to have a happy medium for Christmas, since it means you still have at least one loved one with you but you can explore Christmas in a new country together.

Another good idea is to take the time to think about what Christmas really means to you. What is it that you miss the most when you think about the holidays? For some people it might be spending time with the people you love, while for others it might be cooking holiday treats, giving gifts, listening to cheesy Christmas carols or watching Home Alone and drinking eggnog.

Whatever it is, find a way to incorporate these things into your life while you’re celebrating the holidays abroad. If you’re working as an au pair or nanny, spend some time baking holiday cookies with the kids. If you’re teaching English, take the time to teach your class a few of your favourite Christmas carols or decorate your classroom to make it seem more festive.

If you’re missing your family and friends, it can also be a good idea to arrange to have a Skype call on Christmas day. This allows you to say hi to everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas and fill extended family in about your travels.

If you don’t see yourself getting many Christmas presents, why not treat yourself to something special? Take yourself out for a nice dinner, book a massage, take a day off of work and relax or book a short vacation for after the holiday season. If you’ve had your eye on something nice in a store, gift it to yourself for Christmas.

Another great idea is to spend the holidays helping those less fortunate than yourself. Plan to do some volunteering at a local food kitchen, buy a few cheap presents for needy kids, or get a group together and deliver some warm blankets to the homeless. This is a great way to get some perspective, gift yourself with some holiday cheer, and ensure that you don’t have time to fill during Christmas-something which is guaranteed to make you feel homesick.