International students and their Christmas traditions: Ireland, Egypt, Vietnam, Ecuador

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. We finish with a trip across four continents and visit Ireland, Egypt, Vietnam, and Ecuador.

International Communication student Amelia Hennigan cherishes the tradition of Twelve Pubs of Christmas: ‘A week or so before Christmas, you go to twelve pubs in one night with your friends. In each pub you need to get one drink. You must wear Christmas jumpers, there is a different rule in each pub. For instance, you can’t say someone’s first name, or you can’t drink with your right hand. Each time you break the rules, you have to drink.’

‘Christmas is not celebrated by many, but those who celebrate it, usually have family gatherings’, explains International Communication student Mohammad from Egypt. ‘People that celebrate Christmas tend to be religious and go to church quite often. Besides family, sometimes people that they know from church are also invited for a big dinner celebration on 7 January, when Christmas is celebrated here.’

Even though a big majority of the Vietnamese population is non-religious, there are still some Christmas celebrations, according to International Communication student Hoang Pham.  ‘It’s a foreign tradition that we adopt yearly. There is no special celebration, we decorate, there are some shows for people to enjoy. And while it’s nothing really special, yes, we do ‘celebrate’ it.’

Another International communication student, Mónica from Ecuador gets together with her whole family. ‘Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins… it’s usually a really big group. In the religious families, we read parts of the Bible and reflect on it. We give presents to our Secret Santa and before midnight we have a big family dinner, with the main dish being a whole turkey.’

Teodor Nedyalkov and Aila Kubat