International Christmas Traditions

With Christmas just around the corner, and everyone getting excited for break, Cedars wanted to take a moment to ask some students about their favorite Christmas traditions.

Cedarville is proud to have a diverse student body from different countries and cultures. To celebrate that, Cedars interviewed some students of MuKappa, the international students’ organization, to learn a little about how they celebrate Christmas.


Barhona’s favorite part of Christmas is illegal.

On Christmas Eve in Honduras, everyone dresses up nicely and stays up late to watch the fireworks. “Even though fireworks are illegal in Honduras,” according to Carlos Barahona, a freshman IT Management major.

Families will either set off their own fireworks or go to a fireworks show. “Honduras likes to burn things,” Barahona joked.

At midnight, Hondurans usually have a big meal before opening their presents, according to Barahona. “But I’m half-American, so we’ll go to bed and wake up at noon.”

Maury Funez, a freshman Computer Engineering major who is also from Honduras, will usually spend a week with his family at a rented house in Nicaragua. They have to bring their own fireworks. He especially looks forward to the special meal his family only eats once a year on Christmas Eve.


The best part of Christmas for Daniel Garcia, a freshman Computer Engineering major from Brazil, is spending time with family.

“It’s usually one of the few times when my dad’s side of the family is all together,” he said.

His family usually spends Christmas Eve with his dad’s side, he said. “We’ll divide the time between both sides of the family.”

On Christmas, Daniel’s family spends time with his mother’s side of the family. They’ll exchange presents under the Christmas tree then spend the rest of the afternoon together. “It’s pretty chill,” he said.

During the rest of the year his family needs to split up the time between both sides, so Garcia enjoys seeing his entire family back-to-back. “I know with Christmas, it’s a guarantee that I’ll get to spend time with both of them, so that’s really nice.”

Manipur, India

While Daniel’s Christmas is very family-focused, Priscilla celebrates with her extended family—her church family.

“It’s not a family thing anymore, it’s like a church thing,” Priscilla Songate, a freshman nursing major from Manipur, India, said.

For her, the celebration with her very extended family also lasts an extended amount of time—two days and three nights.On the night of Christmas Eve, her family goes to church and worship until midnight before going home. On Christmas day, they have another worship service in the morning at around 10.

On the night of Christmas Eve, her family goes to church and worship until midnight before going home. On Christmas day, they have another worship service in the morning at around 10.

After that, Songate goes back home with her family to grab some food. And then they go back to church. Again.

While some members of the church cook for the congregation, everyone else enjoys a third Christmas service. After that, the church eats together, and everyone goes home to change clothes. And then they return to church for yet a fourth service that goes on until midnight.

“And then they repeat the same thing the next day,” Songate said. In all, the Christmas celebration lasts for three nights and two days.

“We don’t really get enough sleep,” Priscilla laughs.


Americans are familiar with the idea of using footwear on top of a fireplace to hold small presents. Emma’s family does something similar, except instead of using stockings, they use wooden shoes, or sabots.

Emma Burgess is a freshman Mechanical Engineering major from France. One of her favorite parts of the holiday season is the ice cream and cake logs. They aren’t just shaped like logs; people will actually put little decorative mushrooms and designs to make it look like an actual log.

Papillotes are another French Christmas treat. The small chocolates come in a variety of flavors and Christmas-themed wrapping.

“Everybody gives them to everybody, and they have little inspirational quotes kinda like fortune cookies,” Burgess said.

Another tradition Burgess looks forward to is the Christmas markets.

“It’s like a whole section of town that’s blocked off, and people set up little shacks and sell Christmas items,” she said. The shacks will sell locally made goods such as food, decorations, candles, jewelry, and quilts.


Similar to Emma Burgess’ experience, Tamara also enjoys visiting the Christmas markets.

“December 1st, that’s when we go all out Christmas,” said Tamara Marques, a freshman Computer Science major from Portugal. “We put on Michael Bublé—we make little cookies—we decorate it all.”

On a specific day in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, there’s a huge Christmas tree that her family enjoys visiting.

Throughout the month of December, Marques and her family will occasionally eat dinner with close friends; this is also when they give and receive Christmas gifts from other families. But of course they don’t open the presents until Christmas day.

When they do open presents on Christmas day, Marques’ family gathers around the Christmas tree and takes turns opening gifts so they can see what everyone got.

Her favorite part is the Sunday before Christmas, because that’s when her church has its Christmas service. Often the church will put on a play. Even families who aren’t Christian will come out to see it. “It’s a really nice environment,” Marques said.

St. Lucia, Caribbean

When they were younger, Brittany and her siblings tried to wake their parents up early for Christmas. “But they’d get mad,” She laughed. “So we typically wake up for Christmas as late as humanly possible.”

Ferguson, a freshman Linguistics Major, has family in St. Lucia but was raised in America.

On Christmas day, their father will read the Christmas story from Matthew. Then they open presents. “We tell each other what we want for Christmas,” Ferguson said. “It’s not a surprise.”

Because her extended family is in the Caribbean, her immediate family celebrates Christmas by themselves, but they make sure to Skype with their extended family in St. Lucia.

Ferguson says that if she lived in St. Lucia her Christmas experience would be very different.

Christmas is St. Lucia is very family-focused, according to her. On Christmas day, once they have given their presents to their immediate family, they will go visit extended family’s homes to deliver and receive presents.

“It doesn’t matter how distantly related they are to you,” Ferguson said. “Let’s be real, St. Lucia is a tiny, tiny island; everybody is related one way or another.” And they would spend the day visiting relatives, eating food and trading presents.

Of course, regardless of how you celebrate Christmas, we all praise in awe of God’s grace and the birth of our Savior.So whether you put gifts in footwear or set off fireworks illegally, we hope you have a very merry Christmas!

So whether you put gifts in footwear or set off fireworks illegally, we hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Paolo Carrion is a freshman journalism major and campus news writer for Cedars. He enjoys drinking hot chocolate, reading comic books and making animal crackers watch as he devours their family.

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