International students and their Christmas traditions: Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece

Groningen is filled with students from all over the world, each with their own Christmas traditions. In this special holiday series, we take you on a tour around the world: international students describe their Christmas traditions during the holidays.  This time, we head East for a new portion of Christmas traditions.

Czech Republic
Our first tour guide is Rosie from Czech Republic. ‘We have many traditions, and one of them is cracking four walnuts. Each walnut represents a season: spring, summer, autumn or winter. We crack them and check if the nut is good or not. If it’s good, you’ll be healthy during that season, if it’s bad, you’ll be sick.’

bulgarian christmas dish

Since we are already in Balkan territory, we stop by Bulgaria. Ivana Yankova who studies International Communication, gave us an insight into the special night of Christmas Eve: ‘All of the family gathers together and there is some special food, like an oval bread with a silver coin and sheets with lucky sayings wrapped around small dogwood branches. There is no meat on the table, and the mount of dishes has to be an odd number, as even numbers symbolize bad luck. We only have seven, nine or eleven dishes, for instance.’

Our final stop is Greece. ‘We bring the whole family, even from far away, to the same location’ says International Business student Alexander Mestousis. ‘We bake a cake, Vasilopita, and put a special gold coin in it. This can be done for both Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Whoever finds the coin in his piece, will usually get money from his/her relatives and have good luck.’

Teodor Nedyalkov and Aila Kubat