Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Christmas in Chile

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

That’s right; I said it. The “C” word. Not Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings, but Christmas. Here in Chile, we don’t go in for PC, diverse, inclusive messages of holiday cheer – it’s straight-up Feliz Navidad.

div xmlns:cc= about= rel=cc:attributionURL href=

Outside La Moneda, the seat of the executive branch / CC BY 2.0

My dirty little secret is that I like it. I come from the San Francisco Bay Area, a bastion of all that is, well, PC, diverse and inclusive. I don’t remember when I was taught that it’s better to say one of the non-religious wintertime greetings because I think I always knew. I understand that the thinking is that while I celebrate Christmas, you may not, but I have to say I find it a little silly. If someone were to wish me a Happy Hannukah or Kwanzaa or Ramadan or whatever, I’d take it as their way of wishing me well rather than an attempt at converting me.

That’s why being in primarily Catholic Chile at this time of year is refreshing. Although the weather may not have me thinking Christmas, most apartment and office buildings have a decorated tree in the lobby. And it’s festive, damn it. I like that magical elves (or secretaries, close enough) decorated our office with garlands that have a decidedly red and green bent. They may not encompass the personal beliefs of every person in my office, but they sure brighten up grey-blue cubicle walls.

div xmlns:cc= about= rel=cc:attributionURL href= / CC BY 2.0

I’m not by any means saying that everyone should celebrate Christmas. I’m not religious, so I can’t get too excited about the real reason behind it all, and if you have your own favorite holiday then I wish you a very good one of those. And if I bump into you on the street, I hope you’ll understand what I mean when I say “Merry Christmas.”

Emily Williams is a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile. She writes about expat life at and on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

An Expat in Switzerland’s Favorite Swiss Christmas Traditions

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

By Chantal Panozzo

As an expat in Switzerland, you know when it’s Christmastime. You can smell it. The aroma of roasted chestnusts (Marroni) fills the air. Glüwein (mulled wine) is sold just about anywhere there’s a sidewalk. And somewhere, there’s an expat like me bringing their Christmas tree home on a bus. Listed below are a few things to enjoy this Christmas in Switzerland:

1. Grill a sausage. I don’t know about your town, but Baden has the annual “grill your own sausage” fire pit. You pay CHF 2 for an uncooked sausage and a long stick, and cook it to your heart’s content in the fire pit. When you’re done, you return the stick, take a piece of bread in one hand and your sausage in another and eat your grilled masterpiece. (If you don’t like sausage, another option is to bring your own marshmallows–but be forewarned. People will stare.)

2. Eat some marroni. These roasted chestnut stands are everywhere. And trust me, the taste will grow on you. I didn’t like the nuts at first, but now I’m a marroni regular. The 80-year-old marroni seller in Baden comes to our town from his native Ticino every year from October through February specifically to sell marroni. It’s big business in Switzerland. 

3. Go to a Christmas Market. On my blog, One Big Yodel, I have a run down of some of my favorite Christmas markets. In my opinion, the biggest and best holiday market in Switzerland is the Basel Christmas Market. 

4. Eat turkey. If you’re an American and missed out over Thanksgiving, now is your chance to actually find whole turkeys for sale at the local Coop. I saw entire birds for sale today for around CHF 50. That’s a deal considering what you have to spend a month earlier for a proper Thanksgiving. 

5. Try an Italian Christmas Bread. Popular ones sold in grocery stores include Pandoro (from Verona) and Pannettone (from Milan). For an even more specific run-down on the differences between these various Italian breads, visit my post on Swisstory Blog later this week.

What Christmas traditions do you enjoy in Switzerland? For idea for gifts from Switzerland, visit

Blog Widget by LinkWithin