Utah State University is home to many international students from all over the world. They bring with them many different traditions and celebrations for the winter break holidays.
Chatine Fofana from the Ivory Coast, a west African country, just finished her first semester here at USU.
“Normally we go to our village in my grandparents house during Christmas break,” she said.
Fofana’s family gathers together to eat foutou sauce graine, which is a banana plantain meal, and they spend time with one another. She said that they have a traditional dance between the young and the old that she loves because it brings people together.
This year, she is planning on going to Minnesota to visit her brother.
On Christmas Eve back in the Dominican Republic, Farlin Paulino Sanz’s whole family gets together to celebrate.
“There’s normally a big feast,” Sanz said, “you can feed a whole neighborhood with the amount of food that gets prepared for that one night.”
His family also does a weekly secret Santa until Christmas Eve.
Now that he’s in the states, he’s planning on traveling New York along with his family and friends.
“We hope to have a nice dinner Dominican style and enjoy the short time we’ll be together,” he said.
Mohammad Seifeddine Fnayou said even though they don’t celebrate Christmas in Tunisia, a north African country, they share some of the same principles.
“Families meet, eat food, share gifts and spend quality time together,” he said.
This is his first Christmas break here and he plans to take a road trip up the west coast with a few of his international friends. He likes holidays because they give him time to travel, discover new places and meet new people.
Nicola Tyers is spending her second Christmas in Utah this year. She said back in England, some of the time her family would stay home for the holidays and other times they’d go on vacation somewhere.
“Celebrations back home include meals with family and friends either in restaurants, pubs or homes,” she said. “There is likely to be a school nativity play, a carol concert and a trip to see Father Christmas at a shopping centre.”
Many families back in England go out to eat for Christmas dinners, Tyers said. They generally have to book months in advance to get a table in a restaurant. The holidays can also involve skiing or just lounging around at home in tacky jumpers and jogging bottoms.
“One thing that I miss about Christmas over here is Christmas Crackers,” she said, “they make a great decoration to the table and it’s fun to wear the hats and tell bad jokes.”
This year, she is flying into Toronto with her twin daughters to meet up with her husband. They will be celebrating at her cousin’s house where they can spend time with family.
Christmas Eve will be spent frantically wrapping gifts, she explained. Gifts have to be unwrapped for customs and security, so she will have a lot of wrapping to do once they arrive.