Christmas abroad

Expatica wishes you a merry multicultural holiday

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There's no better time to mix the best of our cultural traditions than at Christmas. The Expatica team shares personal favourite Christmas traditions, as we reflect on the best of Expatica 2015.

There are so many things to celebrate as each year closes. It's a time when expats are excited about heading home for a family holiday, or decide to stay put and experience new cultural festivities in their host country.

It is also, for many, a reminder that family is so far away. But as we've found among the Expatica team — which comprises almost 10 nationalities — it can also be a time to discover new exciting traditions. It's this mesh of so many unique traditions from abroad that creates a certain special, expat-style Christmas.

The Expatica team would like to wish our readers a very happy holiday, which we'll also be celebrating in multicultural style. It is with the support of our readers that allows us provide international communities in Europe with the information they need to enjoy the best parts of life abroad.


Happy holidays from the Expatica team

"Having returned back to the Netherlands (my home country) from abroad, everything around me is connected with old traditions and memories. Sometimes even a little bit too much for comfort; there is only so much family, food and drink I can take in 2.5 days. What I miss about Switzerland is a proper winter. I know it's typically Dutch to complain about the weather, but I do miss white Christmases, snow, skiing and cuddling up in front of an open fire afterwards. However, I love that we get to decorate the Christmas tree with family again." – Danielle de Groot, Expatica Operations Manager

Expatica team"Christmas has always been a multicultural celebration in my family. First, Christkindl brought goodies on Christmas Eve alongside an Austrian feast of roast pork, sauerkraut and strudel, and by the time Santa arrived on Christmas Day we'd have moved onto to the Australian-style Christmas seafood platters, with adopted British traditions of Christmas pudding and mince pies. And since marrying a Spaniard, I now get to add the sugary turron to my list of favourite Christmas treats, which is the one thing I always bring home and has become a part of our extended family Christmas. What can I say? The best part of having so many cultures in my life is that I get to celebrate the best of everything." – Casey Marriott, Expatica Editor-in-Chief

“What do I miss during Christmas? Sarmale, a traditional Romanian dish. But since I moved to the Netherlands I have started a new tradition. Every year, just before Christmas, I get together with a friend to cook and eat this together.” – Veronica, Expatica

Expatica team

Expatica team"Although the Netherlands has many beautiful Christmas decorations, one thing missing from my table on Christmas day, are crackers. Back home in England, the table is full of fun paper crackers filled with hats, puzzles and jokes. A yearly competition between my brother and grandfather, to see who can pull hardest on their side of the cracker to win the gifts, has become one of my favourite family traditions." – Jenny Allen, Expatica (pictured right)

“I miss elements of Christmas from each and every place I've ever called home: the Hanukkah song being played in bars in New York, trees decorated with seahorses on Galveston Island, cannelloni in Barcelona, fresh oysters in Paris, and my grandmother's fragrant Christmas cakes in Romania. After a while, though, for everywhere one goes, there are traditions and celebrations to enjoy, missing things gives way to being happy in the moment.” – Maria Elena Sandovici, blogger at 'Have Watercolors Will Travel'

Expatica team"My Christmas is usually spent in the tropics with family and lots and lots of great food. No matter where in the world we are, we almost always return to Kerala, India, to spend Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s place. When we were kids, my gran’s five children, spouses and 12 grandchildren used to stay under one roof for three glorious, maddening days. Now the family has expanded to accommodate a fourth generation, so that’s no longer possible. But we still gather together for carols, sugary, homemade wine, boozy Christmas cake and a spectacular feast." – Susan Muthalaly, Expatica

Expatica team "I love the Christmas holidays as it means good times with the family and friends. We love to cook and always make a traditional turkey for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, we stick to the Spanish tradition ever since we lived in Spain: eating 12 grapes. It’s always great fun to explain this one to our friends and see them struggle with eating the grapes, one with every stroke of the clock. The trick is to ask them a question at just the right moment." – Hans Groen, Expatica

Expatica team "For as long as I can remember, my family and I have always been on the move and never really spent Christmas in one traditional place. But whether I am sipping eggnog in my parents' warm Toronto home, eating noche buena with my cousins in a cottage at Philippines' cold Baguio City or wandering around Phnom Penh in search of dumplings with newfound friends, one thing has always been a staple in my yule celebration — the company of amazing people. Now that I'm living in the Netherlands, I'm lucky to have an abundant supply of great friends (and adopted family) to spend my Christmas with. That, and if everything goes as planned, generous helpings from the famed Dutch gourmetten." – Sarah Taguiam, Expatica

Best read of Expatica and editor's choice: 2015

Our best read articles in 2015 show that, as ever, travel is on an expat's mind, as is cultural integration and enjoying the best of a new culture, such as local festivals. Trying new foods, learning new cultural traditions and making friends along the way are just some reasons that make travel and moving abroad such rewarding experiences.

To find a way through a person's culture, it's seems that most readers in 2015 started with food. Read about the top 10 dishes in Portugal, South Africa, Luxembourg and more.

While sampling local dishes, readers, it seems, were tempted by the top sites in Berlin, Paris, Switzerland, UK, Portugal

How well do you know where you're going? Many enjoy learning about their new culture. Read the top facts about GermanySouth Africa, RussiaPortugal, NetherlandsLuxembourgSpainFrance and more.

As ever, confronting new processes is always a mind-opening experience. Join the debate on the lax helmut use in Europe, or fears about repatriation. And what can you say about the modern expat dilemma: Does today's technology make expats less homesick, but more lonely?

Or read expats' advice on the German experience for expats or learn from expats' experiences if Brussels' lifestyle is for you? And as an English speaker, you might discover you speak more German than you think

Learning new traits that make life a bit better lies at the core of travelling and living abroad. What can other cultures teach us about a better way of living? With some of the longest-living and happiest residents on the planet living in the continent, Europe must be doing something right.

As always, an expat is constantly adding new cultural traditions to their families:

Expatica was also touched by the song written by Dutch singer Van Velzen which was dedicated to the lost lives on MH17, including Expatica's managing partner Antoine van Veldhuizen and his family of four. We continue to miss them a year on.

A look at Expatica in 2015

It was a busy year with Expatica's combined international job and "i am not a tourist" Expat Fairs in November, and as always, we were thankful for our supporters to make it another successful year. We look forward to another combined fair on 28 May 2016, and hope to connect with new and old expats in the Netherlands.

This year we both celebrated and remembered our managing partner, Antoine van Veldhuizen, and his family who lost their lives on MH17, and were warmed by the immense support and beautiful messages from so many in the Netherlands and abroad whose lives were touched by his contribution to the international community for over more than 10 years. The family's memorial page is a tribute to the many lives they touched.

As we look to a fresh start in 2016 and celebrate Expatica's 15th anniversary, Expatica continues to update our redesigned site with a fresh look and more user-friendly navigation tools — now in mobile format, tooIt is always our ambition to help expats get the information they need for living abroad, and we hope our new site helps enables this.

We thank our readers and supporters for a great 2015, and look forward to seeing you again in 2016. 

Best read 2014: Looking back

Some of our favourite blogs from 2014:

Expatica Ask the Expert
Happy holidays and a propsperous New Year.


Expat Fair for Internationals Whether you’ve lived here for days, months or years, you won’t regret attending the Expat Fair for Internationals. Sunday 7 October 2018, Amsterdam.

Get your FREE tickets and discover more about expat life in the Netherlands. 

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