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Christmas with sun, barbecue and pool - Christmas abroad

Katharina, Franka and Laura from our editorial team all did a year abroad. In the next few days they will tell us about how christmas is actually celebrated in Chile, the USA and Ireland. Today Katharina starts with Christmas in sunny Chile.

A year ago, my life was very different than it is today. I was in Chile for 10 months in the last school year. Meanwhile, I stayed with a host family and learned a lot about the country and the traditions there.  Christmas was certainly one of the times when I noticed the differences between Chile and Germany the most. Before my trip to Chile, I thought a lot about how it could be and was told by everyone "that Christmas will be different and I will get homesick, but it will also be one of the most exciting times in my exchange". To be honest, in December and on Christmas days themselves, I didn't think much about how meaningful this Christmas was and always will be for me.

There was so much that was different from Germany that I almost forgot that the same festival is celebrated there as in Germany. Every day in December it was up to thirty degrees warm, but in the morning it was always very cold. That's why I went to school every day wrapped up, where it was always very cold. When I came home from school in the afternoon, I took off all my jackets and then looked like I was moving on the way home because I had so many clothes with me. About all this excitement, I completely forgot that it must be cold out of habit. The warmth was very nice, but on the other hand it was difficult for me to feel Somehow Christmassy.

In addition, Advent is not celebrated much in Chile, which I find very unfortunate. My "real", German parents sent me a package with Christmas decorations and an Advent calendar book at the beginning of December. So every day I read a beautiful story and made a paper poinsettia, and at least had something familiar around me. Unfortunately, very few songs are sung, and that's certainly what I missed the most. 

We spent Christmas Eve together in the family. My  host parents did not go to church, which I found very unfortunate, as I would have liked to attend a Chilean Christmas service. Many Chilean families are very religious, but mine are not. So we spent a lot of time wrapping the last gifts and preparing a big meal. 

Overall, it was a very strange and beautiful day. The Christmas tree was unusual, but we still put the presents underneath and immediately unwrapped them again. In the evening we ate together in the garden. For me it was the first time we had a barbecue at Christmas, but for my family it was completely normal. An old tradition in Chile is that unmarried men, loaded with drums, roam the streets. In front of some houses they perform a dance, sing and accompany themselves on their drums. We also saw that, very surprising and unforgettable for me.

On Christmas Day we went to the grandparents, where I stayed until New Year's Eve. Her Christmas tree was made of plastic and was already decorated in mid-November, but  it reminded me a lot of Germany. Also there we often grilled, I was every day in the pool in their garden and spent as much time as possible in the sun. 

Looking back, I can say that I really enjoyed this other Christmas. For my family it was a day where we could spend a lot of time together, the weather was fantastic and I was able to relax after I had previously written the important final exams at school. I am very happy that this year I can celebrate again with my family and with all traditions. Nevertheless, in my opinion, there is nothing better than breaking out of habits and experiencing exciting, new things.

(Text: Katharina Schwerdt)