This time of year, with the spirit of Christmas in the air, some people like to celebrate the same way they have in years past while others have their own unique ways. Whatever the case, they have at least one thing in common: family!
By MESAY MOGES MENEBO (text & photo)
What do a few of Molde University College’s students plan to do over Christmas, how do they do it at home, and what memories do they have?
Tesfay Belay Takele (27), Tassew Dhufera (27), and Kiros G. Kebedow (28) – Ethiopia, MSc/PhD in SCM:
Kiros dreams of going back home to join the memorable home Christmas celebration, while Tesfay and Tassew are planning to stay and try the Norwegian way.
“We celebrate Christmas, locally called ‘Ganna’, on January 7th. It is common that many of us fast on the Eve (January 6th). At dawn on the morning of ‘Ganna’, we get dressed in white with a traditional garment, ‘shamma’, a thin white cotton piece of cloth with brightly colored stripes across the ends. While in the church, we are given a candle and, holding that, walk around the church three times in a solemn procession and finally take a Holy Communion. Later, after church, we gather together with families and friends for a traditional Christmas food and drink. There is a special game around the time of Christmas- a bit like hockey – played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball. Nowadays in the town, it is becoming rare to see that. But we normally go out and watch, but are not used to playing.”
Henrik Eldevik Bortheim (23) and Latossan Manohar (23) – Norway, BSc in SCM:
For Henrik and his friend Latossan, the tree, food and gifts are the most memorable parts of the Christmas holiday. Henrik travelled to visit his family in Florø on the 18th to start the early Christmas celebration. Florø is famous for its new Christmas brand beer named Julefred by Kinn. On Christmas Eve, a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal called pinekjøtt, which is prepared from lamb, will be served. Following that comes holding of hands and walking around the Christmas tree singing ‘Glade Jul’, or Silent Night. On the morning of the 25th, they go to the church, listen to a short Christmas sermon and wish farewell to the congregation. The 26th is all about partying. That is the time to meet up and hang out with friends, drink and eat. Latosan does the same but without the church part because he is originally from Sri Lanka and practices the Hindu tradition.
Judith Jacob Iddy (27) – Tanzania, MSc in SCM:
For Tanzanians, Christmas is more a time for going to church, eating a lot, and playing games. Until her mother’s and grandmother’s deaths, it was very usual for Judith to be a part of the common Christmas tradition in Tanzania where relatives, friends and family travel from various places across the country to meet at a particular home. The celebration starts with attending overnight church services on the both Christmas Eve and the morning service on the 25th where the importance of Jesus’s birth is foretold. The family then enjoys a special lunch and watches the ‘Jesus Movie’. Judith explains that:
“As a grown up and with no interest of joining the family of no-mom, it became more meaningful for me to spend the day alone examining and evaluating my ways according to the teachings of Jesus. And that is how I will celebrate this one too; meditating, reading the bible and listening to gospel songs.’’
Susan Ryu (21) – South Korea, BSc in Child Psychology, Exchange student at MUC from Sookmyung Women’s University:
«The very common practice during the 24th and 25th of December as part of the Christmas celebration is a public gathering on the streets where family members and couples go out from their homes . Different kinds of events are organized on the streets, which catch attention and make the stay compulsive.»
Susan also speaks of a Christmas memory:
«Once I had to go out to the street to celebrate Christmas and there was a friend of me whom I fixed an appointment to meet with and to hangout the whole day. But things didn’t go as planned; I have waited and waited and finally more than two hours just alone on the street. Indeed he didn’t show up and that was totally annoying.»
Being far apart from home and not having similar street gatherings here, Susan had to have her own plan for Christmas this year.
«I will have a visit to Lapland- Northern Finland with my Italian friend Anna Caterina Salatto. Our major target will be the Santa Claus village. I want to feel the real spirit of Christmas and also want to try riding with a sled.»
Luciana Casamassima (25) – Italy, MSc in SCM, Exchange student at MUC:
For Italy as well, Christmas celebration is quite standard. As Luciana says:
«Christmas is the time of the year when families reunite from whatever corners of the world they may have scattered, allowing parents, grandparents, children, and friends the opportunity to see one another after long separations, spending significant time together over splendid food and drink. The festivity lasts from December 24th til January 6th.»
She left Molde on the 19th of December to be part of the celebration at home which normally goes the same each year.
«On the Eve, a traditionally light meal dinner based on fish is served. I am not too religious but I will get the opportunity to attend a midnight church service. On the 25th is the most important day of the festive with dining of meals lasting for hours and of different kinds; a lot of starters, with main dish of lasagna, later having the second course of roasted veal with potatoes and some traditional sweet bread loaf, ‘panettone’, and fritters coated in spice, ‘cartellate’. Playing of cards after the meal makes the time more enjoyable. The celebration also continues on the 26th, even if not as intense. Later after Christmas and New year, in the nights of 5th and 6th of January is Epiphany Eve: an old women locally called ‘befana’, rounds every house to offer a socks full of cake and candies for those she finds good record of conduct over the year and in the worst case a socks of carbone. I hope she will reward me with candies this year also.’’