Celebrating family holidays is always a bit different as an expat. I’ve had orphan Thanksgivings, orphan Christmases and orphan Easters where we gather up a group of friends who are also expats (or British but don’t traditionally celebrate that holiday with their own families) and we make it our own.
They’re far from the norm, but they’re fun, these holidays. We share stories about how we traditionally celebrate them at home and sometimes we celebrate holidays we’ve never even heard of before because a friend doesn’t have anyone to celebrate with. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve gotten to celebrate Thanksgiving who aren’t American and I’ve celebrated Diwali most years.
When we were kids, we’d wake up in the morning and search for giant baskets full of giant chocolate bunnies and other goodies hidden in strategic places around the house. A few days before, we’d boil and dye Easter eggs which we’d eat Easter morning then gather the family around for a giant ham dinner.
Last year, I spent Easter in the very religious country of Colombia where the whole week of Semana Santa is a celebration. This year, I’m in London again and I’m going egg rolling at Alexandra Palace. New to me, but I hope I win! Wish me luck.
What are your plans? What’s your favourite way to celebrate a holiday as an expat?
Our first stop at the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland? Mulled Wine. It’s £4 a cup, but when you’re standing in freezing night temperatures, it’s a must to keep your hands from going numb and to warm you from the inside.
We had some good laughs trying on hats (for example, one that looked like a fish – you stick your head up into its mouth), ate some bratwurst smothered in ketchup, watched the pretty lights of the rides and bought a a couple goodies from the Christmas market. There’s also an ice skating rink if you’ve got good balance or don’t mind a few bruises.
You pay for rides and food at regular fairground prices, but entry is free and it’s a nice experience just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. Friends of mine went on a weekend which is apparently crowded, but we went on a Monday night after work and it was just right. The Wonderland is open till 10pm. Dress warm!!
Making a regular appearance on Brick Lane, the peacock feather sellers always intrigue me. I asked this man if I could take him photo and he said yes. He posed, wiggled his lips around a bit, but didn’t break a smile.
Brick Lane is a largely South Asian area. Peacocks are native to Sri Lanka and India where they are the national bird and fully protected under the National Wildlife Act. The feathers are considered auspicious and protective, the bird itself sacred in many cultures. Many of the feathers sold on Brick Lane are imported from Bangladesh – the home country of many people who live around the area.