Giuliana is an Italian exchange student with MyEducation (UK) and she is currently living in the Birmingham area with her host family. Giuliana just experienced her first Christmas in the UK, which was also her first Christmas away from her natural family, so we asked her to share some of the customs she experienced and how this differed from her usual Italian Christmas
What differences did you notice about Christmas in the UK and Christmas in Italy?
In the UK, families, usually, celebrate Christmas together, they have a Christmas Tree in their house and the decorating of the tree is a family occasion where everyone helps. So far is all similar to Italy.
The first difference are Christmas lights: in the UK cities and towns are decorated with Christmas lights from November until the New Year’s Day in Italy the decorations are on from the end of October to 7 January.
The second difference is that children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. They leave out mince pies and a glass of brandy for Santa. In Italy, children receive their presents usually under the Christmas Tree and they leave out biscuits and a glass of milk for Father Christmas to eat and drink during his visit.
Christmas Eve is not so important as the Christmas Day, instead in Italy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are important in the same way. Another thing, that I have never heard before coming here, was the existence of the Boxing Day, a very old custom. The last thing that I have noticed is that in the UK there is a TV channel only about Christmas. You can watch Christmas films all the day. Wow!
How did you spend Christmas Day?
I spent my English Christmas’ Day going to all my host parents’ relatives. My host family and I went to all their 3 children’s families (my host parents are grandparents) and I had a lot of fun with their children. They were running up and down the stairs, the house was full of presents and I was trying to learn how to cook a turkey. I felt as at home as it was one of my normal Christmas. I felt an integral part of that family and of that situation.
What did you eat on Christmas Day and what would you usually eat in Italy?
In the UK, the main Christmas Meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day. That day, I ate roast turkey, roast vegetables (runner beans, peas, carrots and tomatoes), sausages, roast beef with cranberry sauce. It was delicious! For me it was unusual to eat brussel sprouts but I understand they are often used for Christmas Meal. I loved them although they are not really loved by people and especially not loved by children. For dessert, I had Christmas Pudding, a very famous English pudding which needs an whole year to be made.