Experiencing new and different Christmas traditions as an exchange student


Experiencing my first Christmas away from home in a total different reality, but even though enjoying my time with people I’m grateful to call as one of my host families. Photo Credit: Ana Ferreira

As an exchange student from Brazil, visualize the differences between my home country and the U.S. Realize the contrast of the way people in South America interact with the world, family and friends is already something automatic in my brain, but I must admit I was caught off guard with how Christmas works here, at least in my host family. 

In Brazil, a normal tradition at Christmas time is to get all the family together and eat a really (and delicious) big meal. However, we don’t do it at lunch, as I did here. We actually gather all the family together on Christmas Eve and we eat after midnight (or try to). Then, on the 25th, we just eat the leftovers. 

Having my American Christmas experience here kinda destabilized me because I spent 16 years of my life having the 24th of December as a special day to be with family. Because of it,  not doing anything here that day was kinda hard for me and made me miss home and our traditions a lot.

For one moment, I thought my host family didn’t celebrate Christmas at all but it was just a matter of time to realize that the actual Christmas meal was going to happen at lunch, on the 25th.

Before knowing it, I almost had a heart attack. Having my meal with only two people on the 24th was really different (although we actually gathered with some neighbors after it too). I guess I should’ve asked them before about how Christmas is here, but I’m actually the kind of person that just let things happen.