December 19, 2016, by International students

Merry Christmas – however you are celebrating!

With the autumn term over and Christmas just a few days away, our international students and staff are taking a well-earned break from their work and studies. Many are returning home to celebrate Christmas, New Year and other traditional December holidays with their families and friends, while others stay in Nottingham to celebrate in the UK or take a winter vacation somewhere new. We asked a few of our international students and colleagues to tell us about how Christmas and New Year are celebrated in their home country.

Simona, an international student from Romania


In Romania, our history transformed our winter celebrations into “a bit of everything”. For example, German influences have left us with Saint Nicholas. He is a different guy from Father Christmas. He comes through the keyhole on the night before the 6th of December and leaves sweets and fruit in our clean shoes. If we have been bad, he leaves a twig.


Santa comes on the 25th, and we open our presets when we wake up, so we’re these lucky kids getting presents twice! I get them 3 times because my birthday is at the end of November!

Joanna, an international student from Nigeria

Christmas and New Year in Nigeria is epic! Early December you can smell Christmas already; the festivity begins. Beautiful Christmas decorations. It’s a bit sunny and a bit rainy (awesome temperature). Activities such as comedy, carols are organised by people. People start travelling home – lots of traffic! On Christmas day ,we go to church to spend few hours singing and praising the lord in our gorgeous Christmas clothes; after, the party begins! Families organise a party with lots of food and music. It’s a day you never want to end.

New Year is also very similar, the population is divided into three majorly: one part go to church to pray and then scream happy New Year once its midnight; others go to mosque, and the last population are seen in concerts where there are fireworks, music and fun!

Megha, an international student from India


In Kerala, Christmas is pretty huge. Back home, we put up lighted stars outside our houses and decorate them. We make one mandatory fruit cake, something healthy that even my grandmother could have, without worrying about Diabetes issues. We have carols making rounds. I smile a little when I think of my dog, Dumby, barking at them, when in reality, she was terrified out of her wits. She hates crowds and loud sounds. I wonder if the carols have reached my house yet, and if they have, has Dumby made a big fuss again? I think of how all the kids in the neighbourhood got together and scribbled down their names on small pieces of paper. It was a game we played during Christmas time. We picked a Christmas friend from the lot and got them a present. It was called Chrismom- Chrischild. And then we bought plum cakes. Rang up our friends and wished them.

Read more about Megha’s Christmas plans in her blog post: Free Falling into December.

Sofia, a University of Nottingham Immigration Adviser from Greece

In Greece, Christmas is mainly the same as it is in the UK. We have all the festive trappings such as stuffed turkey and we decorate Christmas trees. Also, on Christmas day – and New Year’s Eve – kids go around the houses to sing the carols in the exchange of money. The big difference is that Santa actually comes on New Year’s Eve and not Christmas Eve. On Christmas we exchange a few small gifts but save the big ones for New Year’s Day after Santa has visited.

We also have a slightly different Santa. The Greek Santa comes from Cappadocia in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and is called St. Basil. The reason why St. Basil is the Santa in Greece is that he cared for the poor and underprivileged in society when he lived in the fourth century. Another thing we do on New Year’s Eve is we make a sweet pie with a coin hidden inside, with the fortunate recipient being blessed with luck for the rest of the year. Merry Christmas – Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year.

Posted in Celebrations