International students and their Christmas traditions: Netherlands, Germany, France

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 explore the Netherlands, Germany and France.

gourmetten kerstmis

The Netherlands
Let’s start with the Netherlands. Laura studies International Communication at Hanze. How does she celebrate the holidays? ‘After Sinterklaas, a Dutch tradition with a Santa Claus lookalike on 5 December, we buy a Christmas tree for our houses. On  25 and 26 December people come together with their families. One unique tradition about this is that quite some people do “gourmetten” (grilling your own food on a hot stone, ed.) on one of these days. Other than eating lots of food, we give gifts. On Three King’s Day, 6 January, we throw out the Christmas tree.’

Moving on from the Netherlands we go to their neighbors, the Germans. For Annika Horstmann, a German International Communication student, Christmas starts on 24 December. ‘On Christmas Eve, we get together with the whole family and have a big dinner with typical German food. Before or after the dinner, we do something called ‘Bescherung’, which means that everyone gets their presents. We also celebrate 25 and 26 December as Christmas days, when we simply eat a lot and spend quality time with family.’

Gallete des Rois cake tradition in France

From Germany we move southeast and end up in France. International Communication student Melissa tells us about their Christmas traditions. ‘On the Fêtes des Rois (Three Kings, 6 January, ed.) day we will get a cake that is called Galette des Rois. Inside, there is a little figure that is called Fève. Whoever gets the slice with the figure, gets a crown and is the King or Queen. I especially enjoyed that as a kid and even found a French bakery in The Hague that does this traditional cake just like in France. We call the evening of 24 December  Réveillon, when the family meets and has a big and long dinner together and stays up until after midnight. On Christmas morning, my family exchanges gifts. For my family, the 25th is the day on which we will meet up to have a large and extremely long lunch or dinner together. Something quite unique is that we eat fish during these meals.’

Teodor Nedyalkov and Aila Kubat