Differences in exchange students’ Christmas’ compared to USA holiday season

Brooklyn Luscomb

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Courtesy of Millán Lopez

During a family night, Millán Lopez poses for a picture with his family.

This year’s exchange students – juniors Alice Santinello (Italy), Tom Lipp (Germany), and Millán Lopez (Spain) – have had a big culture shock when experiencing America’s holiday season compared to that of their home countries. “In Germany, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th when we open presents and everything, and you guys celebrate on the 25th, so that’s really the weirdest thing,” Lipp said. Despite this big culture change for Lipp, he has found some similarities between both countries for Christmas.
“Well, in both countries we have Santa Claus and presents, people also spend a lot of time with their families to celebrate. Those are a lot of the similarities,” Lipp said. In Italy, Santinello’s family also celebrates Santa Claus. Santinello says Santa Claus between the two countries is very similar.
“In Italy we have a Santa Claus and he is the same, he brings us presents and such,” Santinello said. However, in Spain, Lopez’s family celebrates the three wise men instead of Santa Claus.
“We receive gifts from the three magic wise kings and Santa Claus isn’t really a thing in Spain,” Lopez said. There is also one other main difference that all three exchange students have experienced in their time in America.
“In America, people decorate the house a lot more than they do in Spain. In Spain, we don’t really worry about the decorations at all, but they care a lot in America,” Lopez said. Both Santinello and Lipp had similar answers. Each of the exchange students also eats very different cuisines than Americans typically eat.
“In Italy, we usually eat tortellini ambrosio or different types of meat with potatoes and vegetables. My Grandma also always makes a cake called tronchetto di natale,” Santinello said. While Santinello eats pasta in Italy for Christmas, Lipp eats a more traditional German cuisine.
“In Germany, it’s very typical that we eat potato salad with sausages,” Lipp said. Although these cuisines are both extremely different from the traditional American Christmas dinner, the exchange students are excited to spend Christmas in America.
“This year, we are having a big dinner with family, and then we are going up north for the rest of Christmas break, so that will be fun to go somewhere new,” Santinello said.
Lopez is planning to celebrate Christmas with his host family differently than Santinello’s family.
“My host family is planning to have a big dinner with a bunch of our friends so I think that will be fun and different,” Lopez said.
Overall, the exchange students are adapting well to the American Christmas culture, but are still remembering all of the events they are missing out on in their home.