If you are a multicultural expat family, deciding which tradition to follow can become a huge issue. What are the traditions you want to maintain? Will your parents, inlaws or extended family be involved in this decision?
In our family we opted for a colorful mixture of traditions from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. I’m not going to reveal all the details about how we celebrate Christmas. Let’s say that I like the “Advendskranz” (advent wreath) – a very simple form of it – and the children love their Christmas tree. But we don’t decorate it on December the 24th, like in Germany, we already set it up on the first week of December (usually after Sinterklaas/Nikolaus celebrated on the 5th or 6th of December). And as we don’t want to watch how a tree dies in our living room, we opted for a fake tree several years ago. “Our” tree travels with us: wherever we celebrate Christmas, our tree comes with us. Our children decorate it with baubles they’ve made and decorations we collected over the years. We also have an italian presepe (manger) that our children set up every year at the beginning of December and each child has its own advent calendar.
The same happens with food. At Christmas we often visit family in Switzerland or Germany and there we just adapt to the traditions of the host. Sometimes we have cheese-fondue, raclette etc.; we dropped the traditional German “Weihnachtsgans” (Christmas goose) because many members of our family are vegetarians. After the festive meal that changes every year – yes, we don’t have a traditional Christmas menu – we have German home baked Christmas cookies, Lebkuchen, the Dutch amandelstaaf, Italian panettone and pandoro.
But now it’s your turn: What are the things you consider important at Christmas? Which are the traditions you (managed to) maintain?