An LIM Exchange Student from Taiwan Writes About Her Christmas in the Netherlands
posted by Vicky Hung
My first Christmas in the USA was actually spent in the Netherlands. One of my friends invited me to celebrate Chrismas with her family. Her family not only gave me the best Christmas ever, but also allowed me a chance to experience how the Dutch celebrate their Christmas.
My friend Rosan says, “The Dutch like to celebrate every holiday twice!" So they have two Christmas days. The first one is on 12/25 like everyone else. The other is on 12/26 and it's called the second Christmas day.
On Christmas eve, Rosan’s Mom made a special pie for us before we went to church. After church, we had a traditional Dutch meal called “Ragout” for dinner. It has a sauce made from sausage and a crispy bread ball in the middle. Then, it’s Christmas gift time! They don’t have a specific time for opening the gifts. Rosan’s family just chose to do it on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas day, everyone was excited to meet up with family and have a feast. Rosan tells me that in Netherlands, they don’t have any rules to regulate whose family you need to visit first if you are in the relationship with someone. Unlike Chinese New Year, our tradition makes it clear when we should visit which family.
So, in the Netherlands, they always have to decide whose family to go to first on Christmas. We went to visit her boyfriend’s family first at noon and then went back to Rosan's family to eat Christmas dinner.
For Christmas dinner, everyone needs to prepare at least one food, and before you eat, one person stands up to share their feelings about this year or anyone they want to thank with. After the meal, we have dessert time. Rosan says, “Christmas is all about eating and reunions.”
The special thing I found out is that most Dutch families have a tabletop grilling device called a “gourmetten” to make a barbeque. It’s kind of interesting to me because I have only seen this kind of grill in the restaurants in Taiwan.
The second Christmas day is another day for visiting relatives, but it’s more for someone whose family lives far away. Some people just decide to do their own thing instead of visiting family again. Therefore, I decided to go to Amsterdam for a day trip while my friend went to visit her boyfriend’s family again.
Overall, I had a blast there. It’s my first time to experience the real Christmas since it’s not a holiday in Taiwan. Rosan's family really made me feel like I was a member of the family. The warm atmosphere made me feel a little bit homesick, but I still appreciate her family for giving me such a great time during Christmas.
LIM College offers students a chance to study in Taipei, Taiwan. Read all about it!