Table of Contents
- Christmas celebrations | An overview!
- Christmas celebrations | Universities in the US
- Christmas celebrations | Universities in the UK
- Christmas celebrations | Universities in Canada
- Make the most of your Christmas celebrations!
- Key takeaways
Christmas celebrations | An overview!
‘Tis the season of joy and camaraderie. There is a sweet smell in the air, lights all around, and the perfect weather for hot chocolate and cute christmas PJ’s. Christmas celebrations have started all around the world. Houses decorated with Christmas trees, children are building snowmen, cities are vibrant and beautiful, and there is a magical vibe in the air.
As international students, this holiday season may feel nostalgic of traditions back home. Being away from home, family, and friends can be difficult. But, universities around the world understand the importance of this time of the year, often going above and beyond with their Christmas decorations and events to help international students get into the holiday spirit.
From Christmas to Hanukkah and many beyond, here are a few colleges with some fun holiday traditions!
Christmas celebrations | Universities in the US
The USA is known for the holiday seasonal offerings it presents during Christmas, especially for international students. As a country hosting people from all over the world, university campuses often have traditions every holiday season to make students feel at home!
Here are some of the most popular university traditions in the USA!
Renowned for its unparalleled academic excellence, Columbia university makes up one of the largest international student populations in the USA. Columbia represents over 150 nationalities on campus and hosts signature events every year during Christmas.
Annually, students look forward to The Tree Lighting Ceremony illuminating trees in and around campus. This ceremony is preceded by “The Plaza”, a tradition at Columbia to count down the moment of the tree-lighting illumination, with a festive evening of food, music, dancing, and more. Coupled with a little bit of snow, Columbia’s campus looks extraordinarily beautiful.
This year, an 82 feet tall Norway Spruce Christmas Tree has been brought up at the Rockefeller Centre, in New York. The tree was hoisted with the help of cranes.
New York University
Celebrate the magic of Christmas in the heart of NYC at NYU! As an international student, be sure to immerse yourself in holiday-themed classes, like analyzing Christmas songs in Music Theory. Experience the elegance of The Nutcracker performed by the Joffrey Ballet School or attend the enchanting Yule Ball hosted by the Harry Potter Alliance. Amidst snow-covered streets, NYU is a winter wonderland, offering international students a truly unforgettable Christmas experience.
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic school and Christmas holds special significance for the Fighting Irish. The campus transforms with green and red, and the iconic tree stands proudly in the Main Building’s center beneath the golden dome. Each of the 29 dorms hosts its festive events, from Carroll Christmas on Far Quad to PE’s Silent Night Silent Auction and the awe-inspiring Dillon light show. A cappella groups spread cheer with caroling concerts, and Christmas-themed study breaks offer respite during finals week. The holiday magic is everywhere you turn.
Purdue University | The Purdue Christmas show
Celebrating its 83rd year, the Purdue Christmas Show, organized by the Purdue Musical Organizations, is a cherished holiday tradition. Held annually on the first weekend of December, the show is now accessible to a wider audience, with PBS airing a one-hour version during the holiday season. Notably, the student singers aren’t music majors but passionate individuals from various fields. Purdue provides a platform for students to audition for the music groups on campus, contributing to the grandeur of the annual Christmas Show with elaborate sets built over three months.
Christmas celebrations | Universities in the UK
As a student studying in the UK, the holiday season takes on a unique and vibrant character, blending traditions from various cultures. Universities across the country go the extra mile to create a festive atmosphere, offering students a chance to experience the joy of the season even if they’re away from home.
Oxford University, renowned worldwide, hosts magnificent Christmas celebrations. With shorter but intense semester terms, students relish an extended holiday of 42 days. The campus’s rich 800-year-old architectural history adds to the festive charm, and students partake in ‘Oxmas’ festivities across the campuses. As an international student, you may even enjoy a Oxmas dinner with a carol service, featuring mince pies and mulled wine, offered by certain departments at Oxford.
Bournemouth University, home to over 19,000 students, hosts Christmas activities for on-campus students. Past celebrations included a mini-Christmas event centered around The Christmas Story. The university’s location in Bournemouth’s vibrant town center turns into a Winter Wonderland during the winter season. This year, Bournemouth University contributes to the festive atmosphere in town with the Bournemouth Christmas Market and Christmas Tree Wonderland. If you are an international student at Bournemouth, be sure to partake in campus festivities and explore the holiday spirit!
The University of Worcester
The University of Worcester, a public research university serving Herefordshire and Worcestershire, prioritizes inclusivity for international students during campus events, especially during the holidays. This year, as part of their holiday celebrations, the university is hosting a Christmas Tree Festival at the Cathedral. Join the Christmas event to uplift festive spirits and feel at home, away from home.
Christmas celebrations | Universities in Canada
Beyond the enchanting Christmas market and the city aglow with festive lights, Canada presents a tapestry of unique Christmas traditions and events, making it a truly magical destination for the holiday season. Amidst the vibrant celebrations, several universities capture the spirit of Christmas in December.
University of British Columbia
As the winter season unfolds at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a rich tapestry of cultural celebrations and festivities takes center stage. With a diverse community that spans various cultural backgrounds and faith identities, UBC encourages a collective celebration of the different traditions that contribute to its vibrant tapestry. The university acknowledges and embraces the multitude of events during this time, ranging from Hanukkah and Winter Solstice to Christmas, and the upcoming Lunar New Year in February.
A silver coin is traditionally hidden inside a Christmas pudding and is considered good luck for whoever gets it!
University of Windsor
The University of Windsor (UoW) embraces cultural exchange for international students, offering the ‘Host for the Holidays’ program. With 17% of the student body being international, this initiative connects students with local volunteers, faculty, and Canadian residents, providing a warm Canadian Christmas experience for those unable to travel home during the semester break. The program fosters connections, helps prevent loneliness, and allows students to experience the joy of a family Christmas or explore Canadian culture. If you are away from family in Canada, join UoW in spreading festive cheer and building meaningful connections this holiday season!
Make the most of your Christmas celebrations!
Studying abroad is an incredible journey filled with new experiences, challenges, and personal growth. However, as the winter season approaches and holidays are around the corner, international students might find themselves grappling with homesickness. Just remember, you’re not the only one feeling this way.
The silver lining lies in the fact that the time spent abroad will give you with memories that will last a lifetime, including the unique opportunity to celebrate Christmas in another country. As an international student celebrating Christmas abroad for the first time, here are some tips and tricks to make the experience a lot more enjoyable and memorable.
Visit public festivities
Public Christmas celebrations are very popular abroad. The markers and other such places are well lit and give you the chance to explore the festive spirit. Be sure to experience a rich tapestry of Christmas traditions, from festive markets to carol singing in beautifully adorned streets!
Connect with locals
Try to engage with local students or families. This will help you immerse yourself in a traditional Christmas celebration and make the holidays less lonely. Additionally, you should stay in touch with other international students celebrating the holidays away from home. Create a sense of community and start your own traditions these holidays!
Buy Christmas presents
Gift-giving is a tradition on all Indian holidays, intended to show our loved ones how much we care. You can carry this on in university and bring joy to your loved ones who attend your college or university. Go shopping for your friends and buy them things to make them feel welcome and appreciated, their culture included. Gift-giving has always been a famous tradition around the holidays. You just need to ensure packing it in Christmas-themed paper or a sock!
Create your own traditions
Get to know Christmas traditions by starting your own. Have a pre-Christmas party, maybe host a potluck with your friends bringing dishes from their countries. This will help you experience diverse cultures and create an inclusive festive atmosphere.
It can be a little expensive for an international student to celebrate Christmas abroad. Purchasing presents for all of your friends might be out of pocket. Secret Santa is your way to stick to Christmas traditions affordably. This way, each person gets to pick a group member for whom they need to purchase a gift. It makes everyone happy and keeps the holiday spirit alive!
- Columbia university and NYU have some of the grandest Christmas traditions among universities in the US.
- In the UK, the University of Oxford and Bournemouth university are renowned for their extravagant Christmas traditions on campus.
- University of British Columbia in and the university of Windsor in Canada are known for their well lit campus and cultural festivities.
- If you’re looking to travel as an international student during the holidays, you should consider Finland, Venice, and Dublin.
- You can make the most of your holiday away from home by immersing yourself in the cultural festivities through secret Santa, gift giving, and more!
One of the most significant advantages of studying abroad as an international student is the exposure to different cultures and traditions. Experience the joy of Christmas and embrace the holiday spirit away from home. Immerse yourself in different campus traditions and take advantage by exploring travel destinations known for Christmas celebrations. If you would like to kickstart your study abroad journey and experience the holiday spirit abroad, reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!
Spending the holidays alone? Read more about exploring as an international student on our blog: Here’s a guide to budget-friendly things to do in Paris for students!
Answer: As an international student celebrating Christmas with locals who hold the holiday’s traditional spirit close to their hearts, the best way to immerse yourself in this culture is through gift giving. It is a centuries old holiday tradition and let’s be honest, everybody loves gifts!
Answer: Universities usually have holidays for a minimum of 2 weeks over Christmas. However, Oxford University, as compared to other universities in the UK, gives 42 days to 6 full weeks off during Christmas!
Answers: Universities around the world reflect a kaleidoscope of Christmas traditions. These include a grandeur tree lighting ceremony, food festivals, intimate cultural gatherings, concerts, festive competitions, and more culturally enriching opportunities!