Globiana’s staff hail from all over the world. Not only that, we reside in different parts of the world — many of us far away from our native countries. The holiday season tends to remind us of traditions, foods and activities from home. Here are a few of our favorite holiday traditions, from around the world:

Elena: Nutcracker! Definitely!

Growing up in the Soviet Union, the gift giving was… well… not a big part of our lives. Except for the one special gift I got from my father every single year – tickets to see a ballet at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. A lot of times it would be their production of the Nutcracker. This is what made Christmas the most magical and most anticipated time of the year for me. Years later, even in my now all-boy home environment, I kept this tradition alive and my men gladly join me whenever we manage to get tickets. Watch the Snowflake dance from the Bolshoi Theater Nutcracker here. S Novym Godom!

Camilla: Decorating the house and the tree

Living abroad and far from family is extra difficult during the holiday season. This is when creating your own traditions is so important. Some are well thought through like us trying to make sure we always go to see a ballet, concert or a theater but I would say our favorite tradition has evolved over the years. It is decorating the house and the Christmas tree.

We always do it as a family and it is a journey through memory lane. Every ornament involves a story of where we bought it or who gave it to us. We cherish the ugly white elephant gift as much as the beautiful white Christmas angel sitting in the tree, because of the memories they offer.

We also save all our Christmas cards in the Christmas ornament box and look through them while decorating. We look at how children grow up and discuss life. It is great as everyone remembers things slightly differently, and that in itself is interesting to reflect upon.

Shannon: Strategizing for fun and unique gift giving

My favorite holiday tradition is the strategic planning of what kind of gift giving my family will do. It changes, sometimes, year to year, or sometimes we do the same thing for a few years in a row, and then we switch it up. We look at this as a challenge to see what can be unique and the most fun each year. We draw names, we donate the equivalent of our gift spending budget to our favorite charity, or we revert back to the age old stocking stuffers approach, but kicked up a notch. Our decision every year is like a gift, a real element of surprise, with hopes to impress like never before!

Marlies: Oliebollen and Appelflappen

Ah, “’tis the season”! Growing up in The Netherlands, we would usually celebrate Christmas Eve, with the unwrapping of the presents. As a child, I always wanted to wait till 12am… of course everyone was half asleep by then, and dad was getting frustrated, but in the end it was a lot of fun. Christmas Day was usually celebrated at my grandparents’ house during the day, and then a big dinner in the evening. Second Christmas in the Netherlands or Tweede Kerstdag, (Boxing day in Canada and the UK) was the so-called “uitbuik dag”. We would be so full with goodies from the day before that this day was for eating leftovers and watching movies or going for a long walk.

Two of my favorite things to eat as part of the New Year’s tradition are “oliebollen” (dough balls, similar to doughnuts) and “appelflappen” (apple slices dipped in sweet batter and deep fried). Wherever you would go there would be a bowl of oliebollen with or without raisins, and appelflappen. We would also watch a comedy show by a famous Dutch comedian and when the clock hit midnight… people in the neighborhood would go outside to wish everyone a Happy New Year and kiss. Some people would have fireworks as well. There is a link to the oliebollen recipe here.

Fijne feestdagen everyone!

Melinda: The Great Pickle Hunt

One of the highlights of Christmas at my mother’s house is the Great Pickle Hunt. She always has a wonderful, wrapped chocolate or candy treat for whomever finds the pickle ornament hidden in the tree. That worked well while the kids were little but as they got older and wiser, the field was expanded and the pickle(s) could be hidden anywhere in the vicinity. Now, Mom was smart and had consolation prizes, but still, there are rules:

  1. You have to be able to see the hiding spot from the Christmas tree.
  2. You shouldn’t have to move anything to get to the pickle, say, the lid of a jar.
  3. There is NO advance scouting when you arrive — we will monitor that tree and if you start looking around, the others get a five-second head start.
  4. If there is more than one pickle, you have to stop when you find one. One year, the oldest found all three and these kids have long memories.
  5. If a child has never found a pickle or even believes, despite many people arguing to the contrary, that she’s never found the pickle, the others are encouraged to step back and give hints.

Whenever cousins were there, and when three stepbrothers joined the family, we started hiding more pickles. They are all teens now, so it gets a little brutal and more than one pickle has been shattered but the punchline is: there’s always candy for everyone.

This year, we moved to Seattle, so we are hosting Christmas in our new home. As we said our goodbyes after Thanksgiving dinner, Mom shout-whispered, “DON’T FORGET TO BUY PICKLES.” I ordered them today.

Carol: Christmas Cantata

We attend a local concert featuring the Christmas cantata by Frederick Handel, “The Messiah”, which ends with the famous Hallelujah Chorus. It’s very festive and reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas at a time of year when we can get so distracted with other things.

Norman: White elephant gift exchange

Our family has a “white elephant” gift exchange. Everyone brings a gift, not designed for anyone in particular. We set a very low price limit of $20, or just something from home. It doesn’t have to be of any use at all. Along with the gift, each person writes a poem that kind of explains the gift. Lots are cast, and people choose gifts from the pile and read the poems. A catch is that if you like a gift someone else has opened, you may take that gift instead of opening a new one. This tradition makes for a lot of fun for the whole family, it’s cheap and gets us away from the commercialization of this time of year.

Felicia: Baking lussekatter with my children

My all-time favorite tradition around the holidays is baking Swedish Lucia buns, or “lussekatter” as they are also called, with my children. Lussekatter are saffron buns made into S-shapes of various kinds. They are traditionally served on Lucia (celebrated on Dec. 13), but we eat them all season long. This is a tradition that not only takes me back to when I was a child, it’s a tradition my children have wholeheartedly adopted as well — they agree, it’s not the holidays without lussekatter. The fun part is that they love the baking as much as the eating. The bake takes a few hours from start to finish and I enjoy every minute of it. The house smells of melted butter and saffron and we get to spend an afternoon chatting and listening to favorite holiday songs while working the dough, waiting for it to rise and then shaping the buns. Once we’re all done we have the most delectable, and beautiful, golden-yellow buns. It’s a sure sign the holidays have arrived! Here is a recipe for lussekatter.

Happy Holidays!

Learning the Local Language – a Key to Social Adaptation
Why books are my go-to gift