Already a semester has passed since I joined ISA and we have worked as a team for making the lives of international students more interesting, informative and newsy. It is not a secret, definitely, that ISA has members from different angles of our big and mysterious world and this is what makes us more powerful and united for one purpose: to be of great use for our international students whether they are already studying here or they plan to do so.

Frankly speaking, I could tell you more about our team and the spirit of ISA but the topic of this post is not praising us, guess what? It’s Christmas.

Get acquainted how our hardworking, funny, interesting lovely and smart ambassadors celebrate their Christmas in their own countries.

Lets go!

Rahul from India:

“India, more specifically in my home city, Chandigarh is very colorful and people like to celebrate all kinds of festivals in a lively way. I would say that Christianity does not make up the majority in my city, but when it is Christmas, the biggest church in the city lights up and welcomes everyone and showcasing the rituals and biblical legends. Since my childhood, my family has been going to church every year, constantly for lighting the candles. What is even more interesting, that every Christmas the church is full of people who aren’t even Christians, and this shows that faith can be something that instead of dividing can bring people together.”

Madhushree Singh from India

We have a national holiday on Christmas. India is a country of different cultures, and on this particular day, we eat different types of fruitcakes, muffins, and chocolates. Typically, cakes are bought or baked and shared among friends. Children are excited to receive gifts from Santa, which is often given by their parents secretly. In the evening Churches are beautifully decorated, and friends and families visit them or gather to enjoy the season. They also visit Park Street, which is one of the most known locations in my city, Kolkata, that gets beautifully decorated for the occasion.”

Śubh krisamas (शुभ क्रिसमस)!

Photo credit: K.R. Deepak

Radita Liem from Indonesia

-“On Christmas we go to the church, and it’s  school holiday, moreover, most people are gathering with the family or going for a holiday until new year. For me, the best thing that happens on Christmas is the sale at shopping malls. During that special time of Christmas, we eat cookies, also, we have various types of cookies (thanks to colonization). The most common ones are: Putri Salju & kaastengels. This one is not only for Christmas but also for other widely holidays. For Christians of Indonesia, Christmas is also mostly a family celebration.”

Selamat Natal!

Christmas tree Senayan City, Jakarta, Indonesia

Thai from Vietnam

-“ In Vietnam Christmas is not a day-off holiday, not a day for family reunion & not a day that we celebrate with a feast. Generally speaking, Christian people in Vietnam do celebrate Christmas. The (non-religious) locals enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas and decorations in churches, on the streets, at hotels and pubs.

Some hotels and pubs have some activities on Christmas for foreigners and tourists”

Chuć Mưǹg Giańg Sinh!

Image credit: tcwmatt/CC BY-ND 2.0

Anastasiia from Ukraine

“As a dominant religion in Ukraine is an Orthodox Christianity, People, mostly, celebrate Christmas from 6th to 7th January. It’s quiet family holiday, so usually, we are gathering together with our family and relatives (for instance, with your grandparents and so on) on the Christmas Eve. Traditionally, Ukrainian table should be served with 12 dishes, however, modern Ukrainian families don’t follow the customs that much, so there could be less than 12 dishes or there could me more vogue courses. Still, it completely impossible to imagine the Christmas dinner without kutya – a traditional cereal dish with honey, poppy seeds, walnuts, dried fruit and raisins (mouthwatering dish – believe me). Besides that, it is still common for children to visit people and sing Christmas carols because they can get some sweet rewards for signing. Some professional troupes usually, do a Christmas pageant in the center.”

‘Веселого Різдва’ Veseloho Rizdva (Merry Christmas)!

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Fiona from Philippines

“In Philippines people celebrate Christmas for as long as possible. The main Christmas celebration starts on 16th December, as it’s the only Asian country with so many Christians, Christmas is one of the most essential holidays there. Christmas Eve is very important in the Philippines. Many people stay awake all night until Christmas day! During Christmas Eve evening, Christians go to church to hear the last ‘simbang gabi’ or the Christmas Eve mass. This is followed by a midnight feast, called Noche Buena. Christmas customs in the Philippines are a mixture of western and native Filipino traditions.”

Maligayang Pasko!

Tangub city

Hakeembee Bello from Nigeria

“Christmas in Nigeria is a family and friends reunion which is accompanied by various visits and eating and there are Christmas decorations, fireworks everywhere until the New Year. The celebration starts with church service, which usually distributes chicken and rice to the less privileged under the service. The most famous meat consumed in Nigeria during Christmas is chicken and also turkey sometimes. The most famous food is rice, which comes with two recipes: fried rice and jollof rice”.

Barka da Kirsimati

Christmas in Nigeria

Georgeta from Moldova

-“People from Moldova are very religious, therefore Christmas is a big celebrated holiday in my country. Usually, they go to the church in the morning and after that, they meet with their parents, godparents and family friends for a delicious and sumptuous dinner. The food plays a very important role in this holiday. On the table, you would see our Moldovian traditional dishes such racitura (a cold soup that is made out of pork or chicken), Cusma lui Guguta (a delicious dessert made out of crepes), mamaliga etc. On Christmas Eve the children dress up in the Moldavian traditional clothes and go to the houses from their neighborhood singing Christmas carols and getting back treats.”

Christmas in Moldova

Meline from Armenia

-“In Armenia we celebrate Christmas on January 6th, I point this, because in most countries it is being celebrated on 24th of December, mostly  Catholic churches, or January 7th for Orthodox churches like in Georgia, Russia, Etiopia and so on. Most of the people, mainly religious ones, fast in the week before Christmas. The national Christmas meals often includes dishes such as rice, fish, nevik ‘նուիկ’ (green chard and chick peas) and yogurt/wheat soup called tanabur ‘թանապուր’. Desserts include dried fruits and nuts, rojik (whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly), bastukh (a paper-like dessert made of grape jelly, cornstarch and flour)Anooshaboor (Christmas Pudding)”.

In Armenian Happy/Merry Christmas is Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ) (which means ‘Congratulations for the Holy Birth’)

Christmas in Yerevan

So, we, International Student Ambassadors, wish you happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Häid pühi!

Meline Avagyan

MA in Democracy and Governance