Christmas – Different and unique

Christmas is a festivity you celebrate with your family. Even if every family has its own traditions, we all usually celebrate Christmas in a similar way. Shops start to sell Christmas decoration months before, the weather becomes colder and colder and if you’re lucky, it snows. The atmosphere is shaped by the contrast of the cold and sometimes harsh weather on the one hand and the warm living room with the smell of chocolate and spices like cinnamon and ginger on the other.

But this year was different. Instead of making a snow angel, we laid down in the white sand of the beach, and while our families at home went skiing, we spent our time snorkelling at the reef and swimming with turtles. For us students, it was the first Christmas far away from our parents and families.

Is it possible to have a Christmas atmosphere thousands of miles away from home, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and with temperatures of about 30°C? Of course, the feeling was just as different as everything else we have experienced and will continue to experience on this adventure, but it was still Christmas. Usually, you’re surrounded by Christmas decoration, music, and food during advent the whole time and every place you go, so the feeling comes by itself. But this year we actively took time to create a Christmas atmosphere. That is a general, beautiful thing about this journey: Since there is always something to do, you must take time consciously for the things that are important to you.

The weeks before Christmas were sweetened by the project responsible for decoration and making our home more beautiful and comfortable with an advent calendar, so every day two people got some biscuits. Additionally, all of us together created a big ‚living‘ advent calendar. Groups of two got a date, on which they prepared something nice for the others. There were poems, diary entries, theatre performances, little games and some self-made Christmas sweets. Each of these small things contributed to a big entirety of a comfortable Christmas atmosphere.

In Tenerife, we all got the name of a person we should make a present for. Back then we had the possibility to buy some things we needed to do so and the sooner Christmas came the more people you could see working on their presents. The last days before our feast the cargohold was full of people who still had to finish their work.

Advent passed slowly and suddenly there was the 24th of December – the date our families at home celebrated Christmas. Of course, some thoughts were at home, and we all were happy to have some time to call our parents on this special day of the year we usually spend with them.

But the next day, we had our own, unique celebration, because the Caribbean people celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. Our feast started at 5 p.m. with a little aperitif. The two Christmas elves Franzi and Alma guided us through the evening. Between the three delicious courses of the menu the gally duty had prepared for us there were a lot of performances. Julian and Johannes presented their video they had made of the crossing of the Atlantic ocean and Julius played some music from his home. The theatre group had even changed the Christmas story a little bit to Maria und Joseph travelling over the ocean in a little boat with a broken engine all on their own and trying to get the help of other ships. After that the music project performed the real Christmas story as a musical. Before dessert, Santa Clause arrived after a long journey and distributed the presents we had made for each other, and everybody was very pleased about what he or she got and the effort the people had made. All in all, we had a magical Christmas eve with the perfect mix of draft program and conversations.

So, this year we celebrated Christmas in a very different way compared to how we do it usually, but the main point of Christmas stayed the same: we celebrated it with our new family. For me it was the mix of traditions we have at home as well, like an advent calendar or a Christmas tree, and new things like the warm weather, which made this Christmas so special. I’m sure we all will remember it forever and maybe miss one or two things next Christmas.