Holiday Celebrations For Expats and Travelers
Soultravelers3′s response to my recent post on Memorial Day got me to thinking about something that travelers often experience – celebrating holidays that are important to them while in a country where people don’t even know they exist. Or, even if it’s a common holiday, creating that sense of home that makes the holiday special for you.
Many moons ago, I was spending Christmas in Barcelona, far removed from my usual haunts, with a bunch of people who weren’t going home for the holidays – a couple of Australians, a Canadian girl and me. Rather than stay in France and mope, we’d decided to do something different and head to Spain to experience the holiday there. We bought some small gifts (we were poor students), a couple bottles of wine, some chocolates, a mini Christmas tree and some tinsel to decorate our room. Before we settled in for the holiday, we walked around the city, which was blanketed in white (my first white Christmas) and absorbed the beauty and the atmosphere. Then we went back and talked about how we celebrated the holiday in our own homes. It didn’t make us less homesick, but it felt good to share.
If you’re an expat looking to create that sense of home for Memorial Day, 4th of July or Thanksgiving, then a good starting point is the embassy or the expat Women’s Club – there seems to be one for every nation no matter where you go. I’ve discovered that expat spouses (not always women, but often) get together and plan multiple events each year, and these always include celebrations of the nation’s key holidays. A few years ago, I was amazed to discover a large community of Swedes who got together every year to celebrate the Swedish Midsummer Holiday. (I can see why it’s such a big thing in a place that’s so cold and dark most of the year.) Each year, they picked a house and everyone took food and CDs with traditional songs to create a really family occasion and celebrate their Swedishness.
Creating That Thanksgiving Feeling
For many of us, there are two major elements to major holidays such as Thanksgiving – the food and the family. With a bit of forward planning you can have both. Either, you can invite a group of friends to celebrate the holiday with you or let that be the time that family members visit. As a plus, they can bring any food supplies you can’t get with them to make the holiday feeling complete. Check out this post on Expatify for other tips on celebrating holidays abroad and, for those non-American readers, who are wondering what the big deal is anyway, this post on Msadventures in Italy sheds some light.
How do you create a holiday feeling when you’re abroad?
(Photo: Stuck in Customs)