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New Expats - Five Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season Overseas

Making your new location the place to enjoy the holiday season

Greeting Card w/ White Painted Pine Cones
Mockaroon HGLg6vPs3H0/Unsplash

You have been in your new country for days, weeks, or months. But the holiday season can be lots of enjoyment or just a time to get through. My advice is to make it an opportunity to experience new customs, traditions, festivities, foods, and more in your host country. This does not mean you might not have moments of homesickness, loneliness, or even missing your loved ones. Take feelings of excitement or melancholy all in stride. Reflect on the reason why you are abroad and the experiences you are gaining in the process.

The holidays do seem long, as they stretch over almost 3 months from November to February, based on which ones you celebrate. Regardless of what region of the world you live in and your personal traditions, I encourage you to partake in your local festivities during the season.

So, let me share some ideas for celebrating locally and finding a bit of joy in your new host country.

Silhouette Shoot of Group Jumping
Belle Co/Pexels

Gather your new Tribe and Celebrate

One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is by hosting your own events. If you are living as a solo expat or with your family, turn your home into the gathering place with all of your new friends. Share customs and traditions from home. Celebrating with your new friends will be a good way to lessen the feeling of homesickness. If you are like me and enjoy cooking or baking, put those culinary skills into making your holiday favorites for your guests.

Celebrate the Local Way

Embrace your new surroundings and explore the culture as this was one of the reasons you moved abroad. Celebrate the holidays like a local! Find ways to incorporate traditional activities happening in your host city’s streets, malls, and local venues. Grab your favorite coffee or tea, head into the local neighborhoods to see decorations, accept invitations from your local friends to join them at home or attend celebratory events that holiday. Remember, the holidays might not be the same as yours or fully in your traditional holiday season.

While living in Singapore, I learned to enjoy Chinese/Lunar New Year, which occurs in late January or February. I enjoyed the drum rhythms of the Lion or Dragon Dance and joined in the custom Yu Sheng (aka lo hei), a traditional food ceremony that symbolizes your plans for prosperity for the upcoming year. Partaking in the traditions of the local holiday will enrich your life as it has mine.