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How BYU-I’s international students celebrate Christmas

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How BYU-I’s international students celebrate Christmas

Students from different parts of the world share what Christmas is like where they’re from.

Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated by 2 billion people around the world.

In the United States, common Christmas traditions include putting up a Christmas tree, going Christmas caroling, hanging up stockings and putting out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus.

However, putting up trees or leaving out cookies is not a common practice for everyone. Some families have swapped these traditions for their own.

Christine Kamya, a freshman studying computer information technology, is from Uganda and celebrates the holiday season differently than most Americans.

Similar to Christmas in the United States, Kamya’s family puts up decorations and a Christmas tree. On Christmas day, they do not unwrap gifts.

“My parents (invite) the missionaries from our ward to celebrate Christmas with us and share Christmas lunch,” said Kamya.

Dalia Torres, a junior studying public health, spends the holidays with her family in California. As a Mexican American family, they incorporate their Hispanic side by making a tamale assembly line.

Everyone in her family plays a role. Torres’s mother prepares and wraps the tamales, her sister prepares the tamale husks and Torres stuffs them.

“You know how some people give gifts like gift baskets … or some kind of candy gram during the holidays?” said Torres. “My family and I, we do tamales.”

Family is a common theme in many households during the holidays, and the same goes for Melissa Beesa, a junior majoring in international studies from India.

There aren’t a lot of Christians in India. Once the Christmas season rolls around, Beesa’s household becomes easy to identify because of the decorations. Her family puts up their Christmas decorations on the very first day of December.

Inside the house, Beesa, her mother and her grandmother come together to make snacks and assortments to give to their neighbors. Beesa said that it is something she cherishes most.

Romanus Gideme, a sophomore studying electrical engineering from Tanzania, gets together with his family every Christmas to catch up while eating a variety of foods.

“We don’t really go anywhere on Christmas,” said Gideme. “We see it as family time.”

The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, is when Gideme’s family takes time to go out to beaches and restaurants. This is how they spend time together before the holiday season ends.

Though international students may not have the more well-known Christmas traditions that are practiced in the United States, the one thing that these students have in common is the importance of connecting with family this time of year.