While there were no stockings or roaring fires at the French House last Friday night, there was a lot of Christmas spirit. The event featured three Hope T.A.’s sharing their favorite traditions from their respective home countries. Hand-crafted decorations adorned the cottage. Judging by the many who attended, the evening seemed like quite a hit. The evening began with introductions; afterwards, presentations began.
First up was T.A. Marta Aguado Rodriguez Armijo, who presented about her home country of Spain. Spain is known for the ceremonial eating of twelve grapes within the first twelve seconds of the new year. The idea is to generate luck for the coming months and to “start the year with good food,” as Aguado put it. There was also discussion of Three Kings Day and its accompanying parade, as well as festive Spanish pastries. The next presentation was from Anna Glup of Germany. She discussed some German traditions which have influenced the American Christmas season, such as Adventskalender (advent calendar) and Lebkuchenhaus (Gingerbread house). German tradition also celebrates “St. Nicholas Day” where children recite poems to him and are rewarded for good behavior. There are many similarities that German Christmas shares with American Christmas, albeit with some different emphases.
Finally, Justine Da RochaDelavaud shared about Christmas in France. While France is less prone to celebrate religious displays, there are still festivities that the French enjoy every year. The term “Noel” is used for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, shoes are placed by the fireplace or under the tree so that Santa knows where to place the gifts. French citizens also dine on oranges, gingerbread and the occasional goose liver. On the 24th, it is common for households to display their nativity scene, which is composed of 55 individual figurines. After the presentations were over, the gingerbread eating contest began. During this time, hot chocolate was passed out as well as German stolle, chocolate dominos and Spanish almond sweets.
Teams worked to the sound of Christmas music but with a twist – each song was either a uniquely European Christmas song or a take on a popular Western piece. Some sang along with karaoke, though not quite sounding like Mariah Carey. The night closed out with the creative gingerbread houses presented by the groups. To find out who won, be sure to check the IRC’s official Facebook or Instagram!