‘Miss a typical British Christmas’ Expats share what it’s like to spend Christmas overseas

Brits in France: Expats discuss pool maintenance business

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While many countries around the world celebrate Christmas, each has its own traditions. Expats have shared what they miss about a UK Christmas.

Ally Mitchell, 29, moved to Toulouse in France from Winchester in October 2020 to live with her French boyfriend.

She told Express.co.uk that she had joined a big expat community in the French city and was enjoying life in Toulouse.

However, when it comes to Christmas she said there were a few traditions she missed.

She told Express.co.uk: “I really miss a typical British Christmas. There is so much about Christmas I took for granted such as mince pies and mulled wine.

“The French are huge snobs when it comes to food and there’s no chance I’ll find mincemeat here!

“I had to explain what Christmas crackers and nativity plays were to my boyfriend.”

While many French families do celebrate Christmas on December 25, in some areas it’s more traditional to share a big meal on Christmas Eve.

In Germany, Austria, Czechia and Poland presents are traditionally exchanged on December 24.

One British expat in the Netherlands said on Reddit that they were facing a very lonely Christmas as they could no longer travel to the UK due to restrictions.

Another expat said: “Buy a fondue pot, go to a proper butcher for meat and do the sensible thing. Stay home, eat and chill.”

Another said: “I’ve come to prefer being alone for Christmas. No dysfunctional family members to ruin the peace and quiet.”

For some, being abroad is an opportunity to escape family gatherings they don’t enjoy over Christmas.

While Christmas abroad without British home comforts can be hard for Britons, it could also be an opportunity to experience new traditions.

One expat in Sweden advised a newcomer to try a traditional Swedish Christmas julbord or take a dip in the sea.

A Swedish julbord is a Christmas banquet which normally has pickled herring, cured salmon, ham, bread and more.

Expat experts, William Russell, said: “While it’s always a good idea to immerse yourself in local culture, there is nothing wrong with continuing your Christmas traditions in a new country.

“Whether it’s going on a Christmas day walk or cooking Christmas dinner, continue your celebrations to make you feel more at home.

“Be flexible though and don’t assume you will simply be able to pop out and get everything you want.

“And don’t forget to call or video call with your friends and family on the big day, it will help you feel more connected with what’s going on at home.

“Treat yourself to a nice gift, it is Christmas after all! Why not even wrap it up and open with your family on facetime so you don’t feel as though you are missing out!”

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