By Katie McBride
Lydia Farrow did not celebrate Thanksgiving until last year. She knew the basic story of Thanksgiving, about the Indians and the pilgrims, but she knew nothing about the traditions Americans celebrate. Her first Thanksgiving was a surprise to her.”I was surprised as to how far some people would travel in order to be together for Thanksgiving, because I’d never really realized before how important it is for some people,” Farrow said.
Farrow, a sophomore English literature major, grew up in England. She came to Eastern because she wanted to live in America, and this was the most cost-effective way to do so. Farrow also said she liked Eastern’s campus and community better than other schools she visited.
Farrow didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in England, but started spending Thanksgiving break with friends last year. She plans to do the same this year.
Farrow travels home twice a year for Christmas and summer breaks.
In England, Farrow celebrates Christmas in a similar way to most Americans. Her family decorates the tree about a week before Christmas.
They go to church on Christmas morning and have a Christmas dinner to celebrate.
But some traditions are different from country to country.
“At Christmas dinner we always pull crackers. and tell jokes,” Farrow said.
Crackers are paper tubes with something inside them so that when one person takes each end and pulls, it breaks and makes a cracking sound, Farrow said.
Inside are jokes, a paper hat and a miniature toy. The person who ends up with most of the cracker gets the prizes inside.
Christmas for Farrow hasn’t changed much since she moved to America. She goes home for Christmas breaks, so most things stay the same.
“It’s not much different. just now that I am over 18, I’ll go out with my friends as well, to a pub or somewhere,” Farrow said.
After Christmas, Farrow visited one set of relatives on Boxing Day, and she saw other relatives sometime before New Year’s to exchange gifts, eat turkey and play games.
“New Year’s has always seemed a bigger thing than Christmas and involves more friends and family together,” Farrow said.
But other international students celebrate the holidays in different ways. Andreas Steinle, a senior accounting major, is from Munich, Germany. He came to Eastern because his friends live in the area. Steinle said he usually goes home for the holidays, but he plans to stay in Chicago this year with some friends.
“I wish I could go (home) more, but it’s an awful lot of money,” he said.
Steinle said he usually goes home once a year.
“In Germany, we usually just have a big meal but nothing as big as here,” Steinle said.
Jemma Euers, a junior sports management major, came to Eastern from Sydney, Australia. She said she made the trip to Eastern because she received a tennis scholarship. Euers, unlike most international students, celebrates Thanksgiving.
“My cousin was born in Minnesota, so they like to keep the tradition so my family has a Thanksgiving dinner,” Euers said.
But she plans this year to visit Ohio to stay with her roommate. Christmas is much different in Australia than it is in America.
“(We) spend time with family during Christmas, and because it is summer we go to the beach a lot,” Euers said.
She said her traditions have not changed much since she came to school, because she goes home for Christmas, so her family does many of the same things they did when she was a child.
“My mum cooks breakfast for the entire family on Christmas morning, and then we have lunch with just my close family,” Euers said.
One thing is for sure. Whether in the United States, Australia, Germany or England, Eastern students still celebrate the holidays.