The family gathers, people chat and adults drink, sometimes heavily. There’s generally a large family meal and multiple generations that show up to visit, usually at the home of the oldest surviving member of the family. Afterward there may be an exchange of gifts or stories and then to bed. This is the archetypical American holiday experience (at least in those interviewed); the one entrenched in stereotypes throughout the nation.
In other countries and cultures people have differing ways of celebrating the holidays, such as in Belgium, where according to ex-foreign exchange student, French and AVID teacher James Curley, “They have what we in the United States have as Christmas on December 5, Le Jour de Saint-Nicholas [The Feast of Saint Nicholas] where presents are exchanged.” According to Curley, “Christmas is much more spiritual in Belgium, a day for the family and spirituality.” People get up for an early mass, and then spend the rest of the day with their family, with a large dinner on the way.
In Taiwan, families also celebrate in a different manner, according to junior Cheng-Chia Hsia. “We had a huge dinner with the entire family, and afterwards there’s tons of candy. And money!” Hsia said that his family used to celebrate the Chinese New Year at one relative’s house and then move on to the next and the next for the entire day. Hsia also went on to say that his family no longer celebrates the New Year in the same manner after coming to the United States.
According to Adijtia Subedti, a junior from Nepal, “We do the same things that you white people do. Most of the family gets together and we have a big meal; then the adults get drunk.” Subedti said that his family did not really celebrate the traditional Nepali holidays when he lived in Nepal before moving to the United States in 2006. “Pretty much the only ones we really celebrated were Losar and Apanga Diwas, but that was more because they were fun.” According to Subedti, his arrival in the United States “did not really affect [his] celebration of the holidays.”
The closest to the archetypical American experience among those interviewed was that of Finn Becker, a German exchange student to DHS. Becker travels to his grandparents’ house every year to celebrate Christmas and consume the usual mass family meal and then exchange gifts. Becker also said that, at least for his family, the Christmas celebrations lasted for two days, with the actual gift exchange happening on the 26th or Boxing day. Becker said that he would miss the visit this year if he was not able to return to Germany for the holidays.