YCIS Staff Share Their Christmas Stories

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer 

The celebration of Christmas has become so present in the world and is mainly associated with buying presents and spending time with the family. However, there is so much more behind this festive and happy holiday. Depending on which country you are from, depending from which part of the globe you live in, depending on your culture or religious background, even depending on your family traditions, each of us have a different perspective and experience of celebrating Christmas.

At YCIS there is so much diversity! Do you want to travel across the different places of the world, do you want to travel through time and hear about the experiences of our staff? Then, be ready! This is going to be an exciting adventure of reading and sharing with your friends! Sometimes, the place where the person is from is not so obvious, so let’s see if you can guess where everyone is from! You can test yourself in our January’s Newsletter Quiz.

1) Admissions Team – our window to our staff’s diversity!

Even before you joined the school, you had a first glimpse into our multi-cultural community through our Admissions Team! Check out their thoughts about what they enjoy most about Christmas. 

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is going to the Christmas tree farm as a family, and picking out our tree together.  After we get the tree home, we will spend an afternoon unwrapping our ornaments and decorating the tree.  Nothing says Christmas to me like the beautifully lit tree and the fresh smell of pine in the house!  – Annie Lu (Top left)

I love getting together with family for a cold seafood lunch, which is refreshing as it is usually incredibly hot on Christmas Day in Melbourne, Australia! We will typically spend the afternoon playing cricket in the backyard before my dad dresses up as Santa to deliver presents to the 8 grandkids (on behalf of the rest of us adults). After, we sit down to a traditional Christmas dinner including turkey and ham and go to bed with a full belly!  – Lyndall Dakic (Top right)

As a child, every year my family and I used to drive to the cottage in the Laurentians (mountain area north of Montreal). We had a lot of spruce trees and my dad would cut one down (that I picked out) with a saw. The trees weren’t perfect like the farmed or artificial ones, but I always loved the whole experience. Now that we’re all in different parts of the world, we skip the Christmas tree but still enjoy each other’s company around a Christmas feast! – Olivia Budd (middle)

As I am Chinese, we don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas in China. However, in the past 5 years, I spent 3 Christmases in Amsterdam, Holland when I was working for Royal Dutch Airlines. There is special food like oliebollen and stollen which can only be bought during holiday seasons. Also my colleagues and I would buy seafood from Albert Cuyp Market and make our own Christmas dinner together. – Joanna Shan (Bottom right)

When I was a child, my dad always made up a story how Santa knocked on our door with a huge red bag full of gifts at midnight. Here’s what I remembered for the story.

‘After you fell asleep, I heard someone knock on the door very gently three times. I looked through the peep hole and saw a fat man in red. I opened the door and saw Santa standing outside our home, a huge full loaded red bag on his shoulder. He said ‘Is Qingqing (my nick name) Xiaopengyou at home? She is very well behaved and nice to her friends this year. So I am here to give her some gifts.’ Then he pulled out a huge stack of Christmas cards and some stuffed animals and put them into the Christmas sock hanging on the door knob. Then I thanked him and offered some biscuits. He left to Yaya’s (my neighbor) home.  –  Lynn Wang (Bottom left)

2) Northern Hemisphere of the Globe – a White Christmas?

Let’s fly to Europe!

The festive season starts very early, usually after Halloween (31st October) and Guy Fawkes Night (5th November).  I believe these three events together help many people get through the long cold UK winters, and keep their spirits high.

Christmas is a time where families reconnect.  A time where friends meet or reacquaint. Many large meals will be eaten with friends and
family, and many parties will be held amongst friends and work colleagues.  The air is filled with the sound of Christmas songs, whether it’s commercial ones heard ringing across the supermarkets, or traditional carols heard in the town square as part of many of the markets and choral events held over the festive period.  Christmas Eve is spent reminiscing of days passed, and making final preparations before the main event of Christmas Day.  Christmas Day is a day filled with the laughter of children, a day full of Christmas movies, and a feast of different food and drink.  The turkey dinner is the center piece of the event.  The day usually ends with a nap on the sofa for the adults, after listening to the traditional Christmas message from the Queen of course!  The next day, Boxing Day, is a day where family members traditionally gather and eat cold meats and pickles and enjoy many festive games. There is usually a full schedule of Premiership football on the TV, as traditionally matches are played on this day.  – Zaid Saleh, EAL Teacher – Year 6, CP Campus

In Cornwall, after waking up on Christmas morning, we get in the sea. My dad, my siblings and I, go and check the surf, and if it’s rubbish, we go for a swim anyway. Normally, my mum, and both of my grannies, will be preparing Christmas lunch while we are gone. There is nothing better, than getting peeled out of a wetsuit, and enjoying a full-English breakfast with the fireplace blazing once you get home! After breakfast, we open presents and play games, while the rest of my family slowly arrive. We always have a big Christmas dinner. We usually eat roast turkey, gammon and sea bass, and for dessert, you can’t beat a flaming Christmas pud!  – Joshua Williams, EAL Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas in my house is a big family affair! My Dad is Polish, so on Christmas Eve we have a delicious Polish dinner called ‘Wigilia’ and warm-up our stomachs for our Christmas Dinner the next day! On Christmas morning, we all go for a long walk together and then settle down for our traditional Christmas dinner. After dinner, we open our presents. There are quite a few of us, so we usually do Secret Santa and it’s always exciting to try and guess who your present is from! –Helen Szeliga, Year 4 Co-Teacher – RP Campus

In the Netherlands, Christmas is not our major winter celebration. The big celebration for us is Sinterklaas. At the start of the season when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on a boat, children can start to put out their shoes for a treat throughout the month. Once or twice is acceptable, more than that is greedy! On the night of December 5th “Sinterklaas” (Saint Nicholas) visits the homes of families to bring presents to the children. This is where the name of “Santa Claus” originates. For our Christmas celebration on December 25, we get together and we usually have a Gourmet Raclette. It’s a stone grill, but instead of putting everything on the grill, everyone has their own plate on the stove in the middle of the table! We take our time and have a long and lovely dinner together with our families. Mmmmm!!! – Lennart van Vlerken, Athletics Director

What I love the most about Christmas is the jolly and happy spirit! Everyone becomes so happy, so kind and polite to each other! I love the cinnamon smell, the German home-made cookies, the feeling of cold that announces the snow, all the Christmas songs and the beautiful decorations around the city. My favorite place to visit during Christmas time is Galeries Lafayettes in Paris, where people can see the moving toys in the shop windows! If you have not seen it yet, just picture the “It’s the small world” from Disneyland! Otherwise, being married to a Spanish man, our Christmas celebrations reflect those in Spain. The most anticipated day for the children is not Christmas Day but rather January 6th, when the Wise Kings bring the presents to the little Jesus! This is just a perfect combination for multi-cultural family reunions! – Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

Let’s continue straight ahead to the US!

My favorite part of Christmas is the music. We listen as a family while we decorate our tree, while we wrap presents, and basically all times of day. We like to go skating and sledding to enjoy the “White Christmas” that covers Minnesota. It doesn’t matter what the main course is for the meal, all I care about is the COOKIES!!  – Ben Nakagaki, Secondary Mathematics Teacher, CP Campus


I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA and the traditional Christmas dishes are posole (a stew made of hominy and pieces of meat with oregano and onions), tamales (corn flour dough filled with chile and pork) and biscochitos (sugar, cinnamon and anise flavored cookies). We also have other traditional foods like turkey, fudge and snowball cookies. One thing that is very unique about the holidays in New Mexico is the lighting of farolitos on Christmas Eve. These are small brown bags filled with sand and candles. When it becomes dark, the candles are lit and the farolitos are arranged in a path or a cross to welcome the birth of baby Jesus. This is a photo of my Dad and I wearing our favourite Christmas hats! – Andrea Griego, Student Support Coordinator

3. Southern Hemisphere of the Globe – a Christmas Barbecue?

Did you know that Christmas is not necessarily celebrated during Winter time? 
Let’s fly beyond the Equatorian line and discover about South Africa and Oceania! 

December in South Africa means summer holidays, family time, enjoying the beach, blue skies, hot and sunny days etc. This means that the traditional hot Christmas meal is not so popular and a lot of families will have a cold meal, or increasingly they will Braai (African BBQ with lots of red meat and a few salads thrown in). Christmas in July is also growing in popularity for those of European descent who miss the traditional Christmas celebrations in the cold. – Chris Perks, CCDD Division

It’s  SUMMER time in South Africa at Christmas time! Our Family comes together in a place called Morgan Bay, where my parents live in South Africa. So usually we eat a big meal the night before Christmas (24th Dec) around a big table and play games afterwards. On Christmas Day we hit the BEACH and eat left-overs from the night before. Food includes roast Chicken, Pork and Beef and a variety of vegetables. My Mother sets the table beautifully – it’s her favourite thing to do. I enjoy spending time with my FAMILY on Christmas day and remembering all the happy memories of years before, together.  – Nadine Fletcher, ECE Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas in New Zealand is great. In the morning we all open presents around the tree and tuck into the Christmas choccies for breakfast. If it is sunny, we will head down to the beach or go for a boat cruise and enjoy the warm weather. Then it is a BBQ for lunch, (Yes you can BBQ a ham!) with several types of salad and meat, topped off with a yummy pavlova for dessert. Then we spend the afternoon digesting lunch as we laze about in the sun, playing with Christmas presents and watching rubbish TV.  – Natasha O’Connor, K2 Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas for my family is one of summer days and sitting outside having food from early morning to late at night, going for a swim or cooling by the fans. The night before, Santa will visit the young children once they have gone to bed after watching ‘Carols by Candlelight’ or attending a church service with their grandparents. Christmas Day brings friends and family at any time to visit, there may be up to 40 people for lunch. We all sit outside on the decking having roast lamb/chicken and salads. After lunch, the children open their gifts and we spend time playing with them, and the adults laze around. In the evening, more friends and family will drop in for more food. I love Christmas with my family at home in Australia. – Veronica Martin, ECE Coordinator

4- Universal Christmas – The origin of the celebration
Do you know why Christmas is celebrated and where it really comes from?

Let’s fly back to China!

To me and my big family, Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, since traditionally it was set up to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. We celebrate Christmas through various ways: such as meditating His Incarnation for the world and His Salvation of people, preaching the gospel (The Good News About Jesus Christ) to people, helping the needy, family gatherings to share God’s blessings, and memorable Christmas Parties (hymns and holy drama etc.) . – Ivy Li

We have never returned home for Christmas because it’s too far and time too short to enjoy the holidays. We often take this time to travel around China and experience China’s spectacular sites. However, one of our family traditions for Christmas is to host our Chinese friends in our home and celebrate Christmas with special meal and fellowship. It gives us great pleasure doing this.  – Leo Lazo, CCDD Character Education Coordinator/Counsellor