Auburn Students From Around the Globe Share How They Celebrate the Holidays
If there is one break that college students need as much as summer, it’s winter. The timing is perfect, and the month away from school is appreciated. Many of us get to head home, visit family and friends, and just relax.
Whether you’re from the north, south, east or west, it seems like most people in the U.S. celebrate similar traditions and holidays. We go home, celebrate Christmas, then the New Year, and before we know it, we are back to school right when we started to miss it. But this isn’t the same for everyone. To learn more about the different winter break traditions celebrated around the world, I asked a few members of our Auburn family for help.
Our first tradition takes us to Seoul, South Korea —about 7,152 miles away from Auburn. Mingyu Kang, a student here at Auburn, was born and raised in Seoul. He returns every year over winter break to see his family.
“One of the traditions that South Korean’s celebrate is the "설날", which is basically the New Year’s Day of South Korea. Families gather around and cook traditional food that isn’t made on any other holiday. One of the most important traditional foods is rice cake soup. It is said that after eating this dish, you have officially aged 1 year.”
Next we travel 7,230 miles from Auburn, to Beijing, China. Elvis Chen grew up in China and decided to attend Auburn University to study in industrial design.
“On winter break, we celebrate Spring Festival. This festival is the most important celebration of the whole year. We typically spend time with family members, eat dumplings and watch fireworks. It is generally cold and snows quite often.”
We then go to Delhi, India —8,044 miles from Auburn. Arjit Singh, a sophomore here at Auburn, has called Delhi home his whole life. Delhi is only slightly closer to the equator than Auburn, the weather is similar.
“Winter break in Delhi, India tends to be lively and fun. Even though the Christian population is very small compared to other religions, Christmas is still celebrated among people. On Christmas eve a lot of people gather at clubs and other social places because it is popular to go out and have fun. I hang out with friends, and we usually go to a party together.
“On New Year’s Eve even more people are out. All of the good restaurants, clubs and bars have high reservation rates. People go out and wait for the 10 second countdown, which tends to be common everywhere. People also go to their respected holy places to wish for a happy and prosperous New Year. Perhaps the most visited holy place is Gurudwara “Bangla Sahib”, which is one of the biggest Sikh holy places in Delhi. There is always a huge number of people distributing foods and sweets, wishing each other a ‘Happy New Year!’”
Next we visit the political capital of Europe, Brussels, Belgium. Brussels, which is about 4,502 miles away from Auburn, is home to Maxime Hinnisdaels.
“So over Christmas break we celebrate Christmas Eve, the birth of the Christ! Usually family comes together and presents are exchanged. Unfortunately, most people don't understand that the most important thing is bringing family together, not receiving presents. Usually the weather is rather chilly, and the last couple of years we were lucky because it snowed for a few days!”
Our final stop takes us to a place where they celebrate Christmas during the summer: Brazil! Beatriz Travalon is a senior from São Paulo, Brazil —nearly 4,646 miles from Auburn.
“For winter break, we celebrate Christmas and the New Year with many celebrations. For the New Year, we wear white to promote peace. Another tradition is to jump 3 waves if you are at the beach, a popular destination for New Years in Brazil. We usually spend Christmas with the family and the New Year with friends.”
If you have lived in the same place your whole life, it can be easy to think that everyone celebrates the holidays like you do. Exploring other countries and cultures can be extremely enlightening, especially when our Auburn Family is so diverse. We can always learn so much from others, so step out of your comfort zone and take the opportunity to connect with people outside your own bubble! You won’t regret it!
Happy Holidays and as always,
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Cat S.