Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, so I was super excited to celebrate it in Germany. My host family celebrated Christmas primarily on Christmas Eve, with present-opening in the afternoon and then dinner in the evening. In my family, we all sit in a circle and take turns unwrapping the presents, so I was a little surprised when everyone in my host family began to simultaneously open all of the presents at once. It definitely goes a lot quicker that way, which could be good or bad, but I also appreciated how the focus wasn’t really on the gifts. I was excited to give my host family their presents, and luckily they really liked them!
For dinner, we had raclette, which is a type of cheese. There’s something called a “raclette grill”, which is like the Easy Bake version of a normal grill, and each person can cook their own food on the top of the little grill, like a stove. Underneath the stove part are little flat shovel things that you can take out, put cheese into, and then stick back underneath the stove part. The heat makes the cheese melt, and when the cheese is all melted and the food that you were “grilling” on top is done, then you dump it all onto your plate and eat it. We had various bowls of raw chicken, beef, peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, and more so that we had lots of things to grill on the stove part. I think it’s a great way for everyone to make what they like to eat, even though the best part for me was the cheese, hands-down.
Once we were stuffed with raclette, we relaxed for a bit after dinner. My host mom and I then went to midnight Mass, which was gorgeous. We got back late, so I spent most of Christmas morning sleeping. We didn’t do much on Christmas Day, though, besides a family lunch. It was nice to just unwind for the holidays.
This Christmas was definitely a lot different than Christmases back home. Obviously I couldn’t be with my family this year, but it was also strange for me to have a Christmas with forty degree weather and no snow. There was no Yule Log to watch on the TV or Christmas pickle. However, I still really enjoyed my German Christmas. Different doesn’t mean worse, and as much as I missed my family, I was super excited to experience a new way of celebrating one of my favorite holidays. This was unquestionably one of the most special Christmases I’ve ever had!
Happy holidays and happy new year, no matter where you find yourself!