Holiday Memories Abroad
Two years ago on Thanksgiving I found myself spending my favorite holiday away from home. I was studying in Tropea (Southern Italy), and as the only American in the town I couldn’t help but feel a bit down as the holiday approached. I decided to celebrate it in my own way. I thought I would make some cookies to share with the school. Much to my surprise, my teacher had a different idea. Taking everything she had learned from me in our “Holiday” conversation one day in class, she managed to turn a quiet afternoon of baking into a full blown Thanksgiving dinner, with 10 guests, a 12 pound turkey, and various Italian side dishes. As I looked around the table I realized that not only was I celebrating Thanksgiving—I was in Italy, surrounded by Italian and British guests who all wanted to learn more about the customs and traditions of this “strange” American holiday.
Two weeks later, I found myself celebrating Samichlaus day (or St. Nicklaus day) with two friends from Switzerland. The girls did their best to create a typical Swiss meal over which they explained the Swiss Christmas traditions to me. Again, I took a moment to look around and take it all in. I was an American in Southern Italy celebrating a Swiss holiday.
As Christmas approached, I learned more about the Italian Christmas traditions from friends and through the teachers at the school. The more I learned, the more I understood where my family’s Italian-American traditions stemmed from.
If you find yourself abroad during the holidays, be sure to take advantage of it. Learn as much as you can from your friends and take part in their traditions. Be sure to share yours with them as well. You will see your own traditions from a different perspective and you will return to your home with some truly special memories.
Posted by Sarah