Celebrating Christmas abroad
A big part of the European Voluntary Service is getting to know the culture you're staying in. For this it is also important to stay for the big holidays you would usually spend with your family - at least in my eyes.
A typically Hungarian Christmas dinner
When I started to look for a position with the EVS I already knew I wanted to spend as many important holidays in my receiving country as possible. It's not only the normal days that make up a culture but especially the celebratory days, after all. Thus, me staying in Hungary for Christmas was decided even before I left Germany.
Originally the other volunteers from the On-Arrival-Training and I wanted to celebrate Christmas together, at least those staying in Hungary (and there were quite a few who wanted to stay when we spoke about it during the training). In the end I was the only one (I know about) not going back to their home country for the holidays. Instead, I was invited by Babi, leader of the association owning the horses to celebrate Christmas Eve with her and another friend.
We met late in the afternoon and went to her friend together, the two of them has celebrated Christmas together for many years. There we spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with wine, rum and coke and a typically Hungarian Christmas dinner.
As a starter we had halasleves (catfish soup) Tisza-style, the main course was a pasta salad, potatos and breaded chicken and catfish filets. After a little wait we tried her selfmade poppyseed and walnut cakes, together with homemade jam.
Around half past eight we slowly started to disband the gathering - I was even able to participate in the conversation a little, even though neither Babi nor her friend can speak anything besides Hungarian. We all got a little food parcel with the leftovers of dinner, because that was far too much for only one person.
and a lot less typically distribution of presents
After I got back to my apartment I wrote my family, because I knew they would probably still be eating dinner, and asked them if they'd like to have me join them later live via webcam. This idea was received with great enthusiasm and so I found myself, only a little later, in form of a laptop on a chair in our living room while my family celebrated Christmas.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable and funny evening and the thousand kilometres between us didn't seem to be that far, for a while, too.