Different Christmas Traditions Around the Globe

Since Christmas is just around the corner, here are some examples of Christmas different traditions and stories from countries around the world.

Serbia – Two Sundays before December 25th, children tie up their mother. To get “free”, she has to give presents to the children. Exactly one Sunday after mother is tied up, this happens to the father of the family and again he has to give presents to his children to become “free.”

Netherlands – In Holland the Santa Claus is named Sinterklaas and surprisingly enough, Dutch Santa does not live in the North Pole, but in southern Spain. Also, Sinterklaas does not have elves as his helpers, but Sinterklaas has a helper named Black Peter.

India – In India Christmas fir trees are not the norm. People are decorating mango trees and also Mango leaves are used for home decoration.

Christmas Mango tree in India.
Christmas Mango tree in India.

Greenland – There are some strange traditions in this country. In Greenland people feast on mattak (meal of frozen whale skin and blubber), slices of raw whale skin. Also, they eat kaviak (decomposed bird), which was wrapped in sealskin and buried under a stone for several months.

Ukraine – People in Ukraine decorate Christmas tree with spiderwebs. It is because of a legend, which says that there is a magic spider who visits poor families and turns spider webs which are put on the Christmas tree into a Gold and Silver.

Spider webs are common Christmas decoration in Ukraine.
Spider webs are common Christmas decoration in Ukraine.

Greece – In Greece, people wrap basil around a cross and sprinkle holy water around the house to ward of mischief making goblins named Kallikantzaros. Also for a good luck, people burn old shoes.

Jamaica – Number one event during the Christmas in Jamaica is the John Canoe parade. This parade dates back to the slavery times and during the John Canoe parade people wear wacky masks and costumes. As a traditional meal, people eat curried goat for a Christmas dinner.

This is how John Canoe parade looks like during Christmas in Jamaica.
This is how John Canoe parade looks like during Christmas in Jamaica.

Brazil – People of a country who hosted latest World Cup believe that on Christmas night, animals are able to speak. The children in Brazil receive presents from Papa Noel, not Santa Claus, and Papa Noel does not give the presents in the stockings but in the shoes.

Iceland – Believe or not, but apparently there is 13 Santas in Iceland. Parents are giving out presents or rotten potatoes according to children’s behavior. Santas have names like Door Sniffer or Meat Hook.

Poland – In Poland, the main meal on Christmas Eve contains 12 courses. As a tradition, Poles put iron under the plate of each family member, to make sure that she or he has strong legs in the following year

Spreading the Christmas Spirit

My roommate, Kristin, and I love decorating our room. The decorations make it homey and they make it extra fun and festive around a holiday. And what holiday is more fun to decorate for than Christmas?


The limit does not exist for the amount of fun that can be had when decorating for Christmas and appreciating the final product.

The weekend after Nykerk (November 7th) I went to Meijer with Kristin and a few more friends from our floor to get items on our shopping lists. We made our way to the back of the store and temptation number one appeared: Christmas movies on sale. We bought three. (The Polar Express, Santa Clause 3, and Deck the Halls if you were wondering)
We were already feeling the jingle of Christmas spirit within us as we thought about impending Christmas movie nights and we made our way to the back of the store where we were faced with the real temptation: the Christmas Section. Trees with lights of all different colors and sizes stood on platforms before us. Aisles of lights and ornaments, mini trees and ribbons–we gave into temptation; it was time to decorate room 37 for Christmas.

Our haul: beautifully obnoxious wrapping paper for our door, a bright blue mini tree, snowflake ornaments, a star ornament, and candy cane lights.

Our justification: we have to decorate now because there would only be two weeks after Thanksgiving to appreciate the decorations before the end of the semester and that would not be nearly enough time.

That night after dinner, the fun began. I decorated the tree with the ornaments and some orange sequin ribbon (because if it’s a Hope-themed tree it’s appropriate for all seasons, right?) while Kristin went to work wrapping the door.

The following weekend Kristin came back from her home with ribbon to put a bow on our door and a garland for around our door frame. I made paper snowflakes in my free time like it was my job. (I felt like Buddy the Elf) Gradually the decorating came to a close and our room stood complete in all its Christmas spirit glory.

Now as the semester comes to a close we still don’t feel ready to give up our room’s Christmas spirit. Its joy and holiday cheer are getting me through this last stretch of studying and exams. Unfortunately taking down decorations is something that is mandatory before leaving for the end of the semester. With heavy hearts we will be un-decorating our room Tuesday during the 4:30-6:30 consideration hours. For the next five days we will be soaking in the shimmering wrapped door, Hope-y Christmas tree, and the abundant snowflakes so their spirit will live on in our hearts as we head home next week at the end of our first semester of college.

Hopefully some pictures of our decorations and Christmas themed links can add some Christmas spirit into your day!

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Enjoy and I hope you have a lovely day!
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Getting Together One Last Time

It’s almost finals week! Where did this semester go? Like, really? I think everybody feels this way, especially since Thanksgiving was last week. These next few days are going to be extremely chaotic for everybody, so it’s important to get a little last-minute fun in before studying consumes every waking moment of your day. My housemates and I decided that, instead of having a Christmas party, we’d all pitch in and make a nice dinner. With the college budget we’re all on, pasta and salad was going to have to suffice.

Even before dinner started cooking, one of my housemates thought it would be fun to take pictures later and therefore, made some fun props for us! Everyone else helped make snowflakes as a nice backdrop for these said pictures we were going to take. It was fun just seeing everyone gathered in one place and doing a carefree activity and taking a step back from the stress of school.

Once dinner was made, we all sat down and basically inhaled the food since we were all extremely hungry. During this time as well, we went around the table explaining are highs and lows of the day. I discovered a nice little pattern with everybody’s response: a common low is the realization that finals are among us. It was also nice to hear about everybody’s days since we rarely get to actually sit down and hear details of each person’s day because we’re on such different schedules.

After we all stuffed our faces with dinner, we took advantage of the props that were made and had a nice little photoshoot. This was actually such a hilarious time because I think some of the most repulsive faces were made. It’s sad to think that two of my housemates will be moving out after next week, so realizing this is the last time we all will hang out was hard to swallow. Looking back, I wish we were able to have these dinners more frequently because it was such a needed and great time. I guess that cliché saying about not knowing what you have until it’s gone really applies here. At least these photos and laughs will always bring back memories with some great ladies!

Best luck on finals and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Christmas Break Must-Do’s!

As of today, there are 6 days until spring semester commences. Let’s make these last 6 days memorable, probably because this is going to be the only time we have time to relax before Winter Break! Here is a post on some ideas you can do in the last 6 days. I have done most of these, but to those that I haven’t done, I’d like to do ASAP. Are you up for it?

Read for Enjoyment!
Ok, this might sounds weird, but I like to read FOR FUN when it’s not mundane textbooks. Right now, I’m reading Love Does by Bob Goff. SO GOOD. And the coolest thing is that he is coming to HOPE COLLEGE IN JANUARY! I’m so pumped. Maybe, I can even get him to sign my book! Regardless, you don’t have to read his book, but read something you enjoy before you’re forced to read a textbook!

Enjoy the Outdoors!
Ok, this may sound even worse, but just appreciating winter weather CAN be relaxing, at least for me. There are so many activities to do outside during the winter, like XC skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, and etc. Also, I’ve ran a few times outside too. I sound crazy, but I really like running. There was a day last week where it was 50 degrees, so I definitely took advantage of that. The only bad news is that it’s only limited to people who ACTUALLY have snow. If you don’t have snow, and live in the sun, don’t complain. 🙂

Watch Movies!
There are a plethora of movies (that are actually good) that are out in theaters. If you’re a fan of Will Ferrell, Anchorman 2 is for you. I saw it, and it was just so funny. When a movie can make me laugh out loud, it’s pretty good. Another awesome movie to watch is Saving Mr. Banks. Oh my goodness, this movie was the best movie I have seen in a while. It was well directed, produced, casted, and was super genuine. No wonder why it was such a success. Another thing you could do is stay in bed all day and watch Netflix. Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone. I would consider that a success because you need to catch up on your TV shows.

Again, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is Marvin so weird?” Well, I don’t know how to answer that, I just am. You can clean your house and your room. Yesterday, I cleaned my room, and I’ve accumulated so much stuff since high school that I never organized. I recycled so much paper, and now, my room is immaculate. I’m only suggesting this because before you know it, it will pile up.


So, this is probably the hardest one for me. Since leaving college, my relationships with my high school friends have been lost or disconnected. But I have those select few individuals I still talk to while I’m at school, and just being in their presence is awesome. I’ll be honest, I have more friends at Hope than I do home, and I’m 100% okay with that. All that matters to me is that I’m hanging out with the people I care about. Now, if you have a great group of friends at home, go. Go and hang out. Catch up over food, watch a movie, or just sit down and talk. Remember, time with your friends doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of your friendship.

I’m sure there are more things to do, but I just posted some ideas. I honestly can’t wait to be back at school, although this break has gone by so fast. But I have another post for you all later!

Christmas Break (Part 2)

Here’s another post for you all, so you can stay updated on my life! As of this Saturday, December 28th, I have been on break for 16 days. And as of today, there are 9 days left of break. Holy cow this break has been flying by. Anyways, since my Christmas Break (Part 1) blog post, I’ve added on more activities, simply so I don’t get bored while being home! I’ve continued to snow blow my driveway simply because Mother Nature demands it. Here, look at how much snow Up North Michigan has gotten. Crazy.

I just can't fathom the amount of snow on the ground.
I just can’t fathom the amount of snow on the ground.

I’ve also continued running and working out – but the ginormous amounts of food I consume just negate it, but at least I’m staying neutral, right!? And one more thing I continue to do is cleaning up around the house. My parents have been satisfied, so I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for that!

One of my best friends, Bailey, just came back from Ireland after spending an entire semester there! We went to this burger joint in Traverse City, MI called Bubba’s. Their burgers are to die for, and are reasonably priced, which helps a poor college student! Anyways, it was so great to listen to her experiences and catch up with her. Following our lunch, we went to her house to play Just Dance 4 on the Wii. Let me tell you, Just Dance is so much fun. I recommend it to anyone who likes to have fun!

I also visited one of my best high school friends, Eva. We always have a tradition in which we decorate Christmas cookies, and go shopping for Christmas presents for friends and family. It’s always a blast spending time with her. Here is a picture of us and our decorated cookies. We’re experts.

Eva and me with our cookies!
Eva and me with our cookies!

One of my childhood best friends finally came home a week ago, so I’ve been hanging out with him for a good amount of time. Mitch and I went last minute Christmas shopping for friends and family, and it was a great time. My other childhood best friend, Brett, also came home from the USAFA (United States Air Force Academy). Hearing all about his experiences was just so interesting. It was good to have these two guys back home. My childhood best friends, along with their brothers, watched Anchorman II: The Legend Continues. If you have watched the first one, and haven’t seen this one, I strongly recommend it. Will Ferrell never ceases to disappoint! This is a Christmas Break Must-Do!

Then, Christmas came along. I really enjoyed being with family and having a white Christmas! Some of my friends did not have a white Christmas, so I am really thankful! I didn’t get much for Christmas because I have everything I need! I just asked my parents to help pay for my trip to Vienna this summer 🙂

The day after Christmas, I went up to Boyne Mountain with some family friends for an annual skiing adventure! It was just amazing to say the least. I enjoy being outside in the beautiful winter weather downhill skiing. We also went ice skating at Boyne, which was a blast. I needed a refresher on skiing because it’s been two years, but it really didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it again! Below is a slideshow of my favorite pictures from Boyne!

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Lastly, I met up with my BFFLAE (best friend for life and eternity) just last night! Don’t worry, we established BFFLAE in our pubescent years, and it just stuck! I haven’t seen her since August so it was SO GREAT to see her! Maddie goes to Michigan Tech, which is in Houghton, Michigan (AKA The Upper Peninsula). Again, we had so much catching up. It’s just so much fun to listen to her experiences at school!

Here I am with Maddie!
Here I am with Maddie!

So, in this edition of my Christmas Break post, I was just a tee bit busier catching up with my best friends as they came home from college. I hope to hang out with them before I return to school, because I won’t see them for a while! Thanks for reading, friends! There will be more to come later!!


Seven Ways My Christmas Ornaments Support My Decision to Attend Hope

Even my Christmas tree agrees: Hope is the perfect spot for me! Even though I’m 7 hours from home, when you find the right place for you, it becomes a home away from home. You may have heard the term “Home Sweet Hope,” and it couldn’t be more true. From the first time I stepped on campus, I knew Hope was the perfect place for me! Here’s a few reasons why I love Hope College:

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This is simply a small portion of reasons why I love it here. If I were to list them all, you’d be watching a slideshow of pictures for hours! If you want to hear more about being at Hope and what it’s like to be a student, keep up with me @hopesophie17 or check out my blog. If you have any questions, comments, or just want more information, please feel free to comment or send me an email at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Christmas Break (Part 1)

Tomorrow, December 18th, 2013, marks my first week of being on break. And let me tell you this, it’s already going by too fast. My brain is still recovering from the extensive studying from finals week; all I need right now is doing nothing, Regardless, it feels so good to be on break. Although I haven’t done much, I’ve been pretty productive around the house, and thats good enough for me. Since last Thursday, my parents have got me doing chores and running errands. Is it weird that I kind of enjoy doing them? It’s probably because it burns up just the right amount of time; I’m neither bored or overwhelmed with things to do. Our house is clean (thanks to me), the driveway is clear of snow (thanks to me), and my parents are happy. When my parents are happy, it’s always a good day!

SIDE NOTE: I just looked up my final grades on KnowHope Plus, and boy am I satisfied. I made it through my Junior fall semester, and in good academic standing! Give yourself a pat on the back, MARV!

Since being home, I had the opportunity to watch 2 of my little bro’s basketball games. He goes to Traverse City Central High School, and is on the freshman team. He is over 6 feet tall, and is baller to say the least. That dude can jump, block, shoot, you name it.

He is a giant.
He is a giant.

Here’s a picture of us! It’s hard for me to believe that he’s taller than me. At times, I feel like I’m taller because I’m older, or that could be my denial kicking in. Nonetheless, I hope that I can watch more of his basketball games while I’m home. The school district here has just two more days left until their Christmas break, so maybe just one more!

One thing that I have been doing, so far, during break is running and working out. I am so THANKFUL that we have a “mini” gym in our basement, so I can lift and such. We also have a treadmill, which is awesome. So far, the weather has been awful up here, so I’ve been running on my treadmill. It can get quite mundane, but it’s better than sitting around. Tomorrow, I’m planning to run outside; it would be my first winter run! I’m nervous, but I’ll take a picture for all of you!

That’s week 1 at a glance, friends! I will DEFINITELY post something again before this week ends. For you Hope students reading this, I hope your break is nice and relaxing; we deserve it! For those of you still in school, stick it out! There are only two more days left until break! By the way, here is a shout-out to all of the admitted students for the CLASS OF 2018! You all rock, and you made a GREAT decision by applying to Hope! If you haven’t already, follow me on twitter!

Before I leave, I just wanted to share one more tidbit. As Christmas approaches, we tend to get stuck in our “materialistic” ways, with buying presents, and shopping for ourselves. I am totally guilty of this. It is important for us to remember the reason for the season. Let’s put CHRIST back into CHRISTMAS, ok? Alright everyone, thanks for reading!