Sunday, 5 January 2014

christmas in a foreign country

This will be the last christmas related post I promise! But seriously, didn't christmas go super fast this year? I thought because of the time between christmas and new year, the festive period would feel never-ending. Yet here we are in January.

I remember the first christmas we spent here; we had landed in Cyprus in October and just 2 months later, were celebrating our first christmas Cypriot style. I am not going to lie, that christmas was probably the most challenging of my life and the most miserable. Home sickness had well and truly set in and all I wanted was a quiet family English christmas.

Three years later I have adapted to the customs and traditions of the festive season here in Cyprus. Christmas day is spent at granny's; the uncles cook souvla, the aunties do everything else and cousins entertain the little kids. There is an abundance of food which continues up until new years eve when there is another family feast to ring in the new year. 

With all this to navigate during the festive season, there are a few tricks to keep any expat sane: 

1. Embrace it
If you don't embrace your circumstances, you will inevitably drive yourself crazy. Sure christmas may not be what your used to, but there are lots of positives to celebrations in a new country. So find them, adopt their traditions and embrace the holiday period in the style of your new country. 

2. Maintain your own traditions
Just because you are living in another country, doesn't mean you have to completely disregard your own customs. It is always possible to integrate your own style of doing things into your expat life. For example, come the first of December, my christmas tree is up, christmas movies are playing and christmas songs are on. In Cyprus christmas doesn't really get going until about two weeks before the day, but not in my apartment. 

3. More importantly enjoy it
Just because your spending christmas apart from your family and friends, you should enjoy the festivities, whichever you want. Whether it's with your fellow expat friends, with family or with natives, enjoy the holidays, the traditions and the customs and look at it as an experience. 


  1. I'd kind of like to experience a traditional Cypriot Christmas, maybe not actually on Christmas day though ;) Sometimes I feel like we may as well be in the UK for how we do things, this Christmas was just like my childhood ones but a little bit sunnier! Well done for surviving the early one, must have been hard, our first one here was odd but it was our first as parents too and we'd only been here 4 weeks so was too much in shock I think to worry about it.

    All the best for 2014 xx

    1. Hahaha Emma next year you can come to my boyfriends family's place for christmas - trust me it is loud! I think I found the first one hard because we had only been here a few months. Now I am starting to enjoy them. And I have realised christmas is christmas where ever you are as long as you embrace the festivities and have the people you love around you.

  2. I empathise with this post a lot. We try to experience Christmas in different countries every year. But the hardest it's ever been for me was landing in India, for the first time, on Christmas day. I was in the South and it really shocked me that it didn't look like Christmas. This shock lasted a few hours but I eased into it - and it was wonderful!

    1. Oh wow that must have been weird.
      I think the first impression is always worse than the reality, it is always a shock when you do something your not used. I do like your idea of experiencing christmas in a different country each year - just not sure I am as brave as you Vanisha!


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