My Life

Christmas away from family

I had a great time at our pre-Christmas party on Friday with my classmates (photo above), I ate delicious Korean food yesterday at my Finnish friend’s place and spoke to my family members through skype. I have my Christmas Tree and chocolate. But it’s not the Christmas I want.

Christmas used to be magical time when I was a kid. Lots of excitement and traditions. I was able to hold onto it as long as I spent the holidays with my family, but then I moved to China. It’s just not real Christmas for me if it’s not spent with my family.

Last Christmas I  spent it with my boyfriend, but this year he unfortunately had work at his hometown. I have my cat beside me (even right at this moment), but even though she loved the pork I gave here, she doesn’t care what day it is.

In Finland the Christmas Eve is the most important day and now it feels like  that the Christmas is over already. It’s not a holiday here in China and I can’t forget that I have lots of schoolwork next week, including Cantonese spoken exam tomorrow.

This may all sound way too sad, and it is, but it’s the price I’m still willing to pay in order to spend the rest of the year happy here in Guangzhou. And with a thought that maybe after I graduate I have the chance to spend my Christmases again in Finland.

Anyone else living far away from family and missing the childhood Christmas?


  • Jack

    Although we don’t celebrate Xmas, we do celebrate Chinese New Year (Lunar new year) and being living oversea for over 21 years now, I can definitely relate to that feeling you are having. The first few years was particularly hard, you really do get homesick for these type of festive events to come up. The atmosphere is different, the place is different, the people are different, and most of all, not being able to spent time with relatives and family is probably the hardest part.
    I remember I dreamt of lighting firecrackers with my cousins at my grandparent’s home, and eating dumplings with my family and extended families.

    But as time went on, I felt like Chinese new year have slowly losing its grip on me. It has slowly become a distant memory now, since even when I went back – most of my relatives are overseas (seems to be a weird phenomenon nowadays, to go oversea for holiday during Chinese new year…)
    And it has slowly become just a marking on the calendar to make dumpling. :(


    Sara Reply:

    I think it could be the same for me too if I end up spending every Christmas in China in the future too. I have already noticed that the western new year doesn’t mean much for me, even though in Finland it was surrounded with it’s own traditions.


  • ordinary malaysian

    Sorry to hear that you so missed celebrating Christmas the way you were used to in Finland. Of course in China, even if the Chinese do celebrate the holiday it would still be different without family and the familiar around. I agree with Jack that it is weird to want to go overseas for a holiday instead of staying put in one’s country to celebrate CNY. And I would like to add that it is a sad phenomenon. One of the joys/purposes of CNY or Christmas, for that matter, is to meet up with family members/friends/relatives whom we not seen or been in touch with for some time and to share the joys of the occasion with them.


  • Jocelyn

    Hi Sara,

    So sorry to hear you didn’t have any loved ones around you this Christmas. I can kind of understand b/c John and I couldn’t spare the time to go visit with family during the holidays this year, and it felt a little more quiet than usual. We definitely miss family and it doesn’t feel quite the same. You’re in my thoughts, Sara.


  • Chris Waugh

    I think my first couple of Chinese Christmases were uncomfortable, but you get used to it. I did, however, always make a point of getting my colleagues together for a little celebration because I understand how it can be difficult to be so far away from family on the holiday.

    But this year I did find myself missing the proper New Zealand-style Christmas for the first time in years. It was my daughter’s first Christmas, and she put a lot of the magic back in the holiday. I had a lot of fun reviving the old family traditions for her. It was also interesting teaching the Chinese half of the family what to do and what not to do. But it didn’t quite feel right. I found there’s something fundamentally wrong with having Christmas in a place where my daughter can’t just run around outside barefoot in shorts and t-shirt. For me, Christmas is a summer time holiday, and it just doesn’t feel right trying to teach my daughter about Christmas when it’s freezing cold outside.


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