Having students and teachers from all around the world makes BISL a very special place to learn (and work).

We embrace multiculturalism to its fullest across the school, which gives us the unique opportunity to learn about cultures and traditions we may not have realised even existed. This makes our students' educational experience richer in every way.

Our students have been writing about their Christmas traditions in their English lessons, and we've put together some extracts from their writing. We hope you enjoy reading them and learn something new!

Romania, by Maria N.

Christmas cultures RO

Christmas season in Romania kicks off right after St. Andrew’s Day (November 30), when according to local legends, vampires and evil spirits come to light. The period leading up to Christmas is filled with wonderful and quite twisted celebrations, including Romania’s National Day (December 1st) and Saint Nicholas (Moș Nicolae), when all children receive gifts.

Christmas fasting (Postul Craciunului): Romanians are religious people and they usually practice fasting throughout the year (Mondays and Fridays) by abstaining from eating animal products. Even more important is the Nativity Fast, which runs from November 14th to December 24th. According to the Orthodox religion, during these 40 days preceding Christmas, nobody can eat meat, eggs, or milk, with a few exceptions when fish is permitted.

Brazil, by Gabriel R.

Christmas cultures BR

We celebrate Christmas by going to the beach and eating popsicles, while the hot sun sprays its rays on us. In summer, it also rains, which is like snow for us. During New Year's Eve, there is one big difference that stands out from other countries which is that Brazilians should dress up in all whites. Yes, everything should be white. Your shirt, pants, socks, underwear, everything. This is because white clothing for Brazilians stands for good luck and lots of peace when next year comes. Well, the white clothing didn't work for 2020, sadly. Not only that, since beaches are like deities for Brazilians, we say that standing on sand is also considered good luck, and after the firework show or when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, we have to jump 7 times on a wave, which is also said to bring good luck and lots of peace for next year. However, these things were not enough for 2020. Nonetheless, since the year is almost over, we will dress up in whites, stand on sand, and jump on 7 waves so that 2021 becomes a great year!

France, by Valentin D.

Christmas cultures FR

Before Christmas, lika a lot of people, I have a calendar with a chocolate for every day until Christmas. In the two first weeks of December we make our Christmas tree. Yes, we make it out of books. During December we eat a lot of plates with cheese such as Raclette and Fondue where you eat the hot cheese. Yummy!

South Africa, by Izzy M.

Christmas cultures SA

My family would either go to my house or my Aunt’s house. My granny and grandpa would bring a ham and Malva Pudding. We would eat salad, roasted potatoes, and a few other things like pickled onions (that my grandpa would make). Before we eat, we would open presents we got each other, swim, play games, and open Christmas Crackers. Since it is summer, we would eat outside in the Sun and just spend the whole day outside!

Czech Republic, by Julie V.

Christmas cultures CZ

The mistletoe was believed to protect against fire and was hung in houses to prevent witches and evil spirits from gaining access. It also ensured fertility, and hence the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. After Christmas Eve dinner, it's time to slice the apple. A knife is taken and an apple is cut across. If you find a star inside a sliced ​​apple, you will be healthy and happy next year, otherwise a cross or worm indicates illness or death.

Japan, by Mei T.

Christmas cultures JP

In Japan, we usually eat barbecue with our family, and after dinner, eat Christmas cake. However, people in Japan eat KFC for Christmas too. There is an awesome commercial for KFC’s Christmas bar and families see this commercial and want to eat KFC for Christmas. I couldn’t believe my ears when my mom told me this. Sadly, our family is not one of the families that eat KFC for Christmas. In the night, I give them my presents and go quickly to sleep so that Santa Claus will give presents to us in the night.

The Netherlands, by Elise G.

Christmas cultures NL

In The Netherlands we don’t do Santa Claus, we do Sinter Klaas. He is practically the same idea as Santa Claus:, old, fat, a long white beard etc. The only few differences is that he wears a different hat, and holds a cane. He also, instead of elves, has actual people to help him pack presents, they used to be called ‘zwarte piet’ which means black Pete. The UN wrote a report against this in 2015 saying that it was racist, because it was men with black face paint working for a white man… The intention was to make them look dirty from going up and down chimneys, but even when people told the UN this, everyone still agreed that it was racist since it was practically black face. After the whole Black Lives Matter movement, it definitely had to be cancelled.

Let me tell you what we do on Sinter Klaas, we also (like Germans apparently - keep reading) put shoes by the chimney for 4 days straight every night starting on December 1st. Then Zwarte Piet puts little things like candy, and maybe even small toys in your shoe. But he doesn’t just put any candy, he puts ‘pepernoten’ small cookies that are only sold during Sinter Klaas (from around very late November to 5 December) not for a very long time, but I’ll just say pepernoten are THE BEST THING in the entire world. You can buy them covered in chocolate. But the cookie consists of spices like: cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed, ginger and cardamom. Sounds weird but it is incredible, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them.

On 5 December it’s ‘pakjes avond’ which means gift night where Sinter Klaas comes with a big bag over his shoulder, leaves it in front of the doorbell, and then sprints. The kids take the bag in and open all the presents inside. It’s not an incredibly diverse thing that no one has ever thought of, but it is fun.

Serbia, by Višnja S.

Christmas cultures SR

I lived in Serbia and Christmas there is a little bit different. We are not celebrating it on 25th December. Our Christmas is celebrated on 7th January. Our Christmas day is family day. That means you should celebrate that day with your families and spend the whole day with them. No one should be alone for Christmas. To be honest New Year is a bigger celebration so I will write about New Year.

New Year is celebrated differently from family to family. The thing that stands for everyone is that we decorate Christmas trees and all that Christmas stuff for New Year. I’m celebrating Christmas with my family and three other families that are really close to us. We are meeting in someone's house or we rent a house. Then we are waiting till 00:00 which is the first of January. After 00:00 we can open our presents that Santa gave us before. Around 10pm, our parents call that one company and then a man dressed up like Santa gives us presents. We don’t have really types of presents we get. It can be any stuff. Candy, clothes… We also usually bake cookies too. Then we listen to Christmas music and enjoy Christmas joy.

China, by Gracie B.

Christmas cultures CN

Since in China only 1% of people are Christian and religious in such manner, only a small portion of them actually celebrate Christmas. Those who do, have no specific traditions besides the food, which is usually pork stomach or maybe a roast piglet. They do however make festive paper lanterns to hang up in and out of the homes. Christmas in Mandarin is, “Shengdan Jie”. Most people just go out to restaurants, movie theaters, or have get togethers in groups. Merry Christmas in Chinese is, “Shengdan Jie Kuaile”. Couples and families may exchange small gifts with each other casually for the sake of the holiday.

Germany, by Dominik W.

Christmas cultures DE

On 5th December, we Germans have the ‘’Nikolaus’’. In our tradition we put shoes (all kinds of shoes) outside our doors and then go to sleep. In the night, he comes and fills the shoes with all kinds of gifts. If the kid is good, the shoes are filled with chocolate, walnuts, apples, cookies and they can have toys too. If the kid was bad, then well.... he wakes up to find a ‘’Route’’ (like a stick) or nothing. I actually didn’t know that you can get something like this when you're a bad kid because I never got it and I don’t think that many other German families do that bad kid thing either. It really depends on the family, either it’s a prank for their kids or they want to teach them a lesson. If you think that the ‘’Nikolaus’’ is the same as ‘’Santa Claus’’, they are really similar but different and not the same. Originally the ‘’Nikolaus’’ came to villages in the cold winter and gave food to the starving child’s and all who needed it (That's the story I know).