Hi. My name is Jan, I’m a first-year student and this year I’m spending Christmas on Campus. Whenever I talk to someone about it, get a lot of sad and compassionate reactions. I understand why everyone considers it to be miserable, but I disagree with that mindset. Naturally, I will miss my family and the way we usually celebrate Christmas, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit quietly staring into a wall and sobbing on Christmas Day!
This year has been different than any other. We have all spent months sitting at home, some of us, including myself, with our families. Human contact was reduced to a minimum due to the situation we’re in. This year I spent Easter with only my parents, unlike every other year when the whole family gathered to celebrate. It felt strange at first, but I was optimistic – I tried to get as much joy from the situation as possible. This is exactly what I’m going to do about Christmas. I intend to have a good time, despite the circumstances.
A mix of old and new traditions
In Poland, where I’m from, we usually focus our main celebrations on Christmas Eve. There is a festive and traditionally meatless dinner, consisting of 12 dishes, followed by opening presents. Since it is likely the rest of my family will be divided too, (due to local Covid-19 restrictions in Poland) I plan to have a video chat with my parents, grandparents and other family members.
There is a Polish shop in York, so I will hopefully be able to buy some of the most traditional foods enjoyed on that special night. Those that are not sold ready-made, I’ll have to learn how to prepare. I’m really looking forward to that experience.
The Christmas spirit here is also a tiny bit different from what I’m used to. In Poland, especially the parts where I am from, Christmas is celebrated more from a religious perspective. Traditional Christmas Carols are an important part of our Christmas culture, as well as the Midnight Mass, with churches full of decorations and people singing. Christmas Day is usually celebrated in my family by just a casual dinner, with all the family members present and an evening spent talking.
However, since I am now here in the UK, I will introduce some of the local customs into my celebrations. Christmas Eve will remain Polish, but on Christmas Day I plan to watch the Queen’s speech, prepare a turkey, pigs in blankets and other traditional British Christmas foods. The University is very kind to help me with that. Every student remaining here for Christmas will receive a Christmas hamper, to make this experience even more memorable. I am very happy to have an opportunity to stay in my accommodation on campus.
My plans for the break
Naturally, this is an educational institution, so I will take some time to study as well. Fortunately, I will have access to the library most of the time, so I can find many useful resources there to prepare for the new term. I hope to learn more about the most interesting topics from my course so far.
My most important plan for this long break is, however, to of course rest! I’ve really enjoyed the first term, and I’m looking forward to the second. For this break though, I intend to spend some time watching films, sightseeing and taking long walks around the campus and the city. I am looking forward to seeing the City of York decorated for Christmas! Given the current circumstances, not all of the usual attractions will be available, but nevertheless, it appears that both the City and the University want to make this time as wonderful as possible for us.
I am really looking forward to spending Christmas in York. To all those reading – Merry Christmas!
Jan, have a good Christmas. Pax vobiscum. Michael