Riona Doherty is studying French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and is currently doing an internship in Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur for her third year abroad. Here is her brilliant list of ten things you’ll miss from home when you spend Christmas abroad…
1. Mince pies
I was probably very much alone in thinking that this puff pastry delight was also a tradition in various other European countries. It is not. Yep, you won’t be finding 12 for £2 anywhere – your closest bet is tracking down the obligatory, extortionately priced “home comforts” shop and paying €5. Or, I mean, how hard are they to make, really?
2. People drinking all the time just because it’s December
It’s called party season for a reason – December and drinking just go hand in hand, right? Our British partying reputation rings even truer once it hits the festive period and people aren’t heading straight to the pub after work. Also see: “Mad Friday”. You know the Friday before Christmas nationally renowned as one of the greatest nights out of the year? Nope, also not a thing.
3. Boxing Day
I’m lucky enough to be going home, as are most of my friends, for Christmas, but this is yet another (frankly lifesaving) tradition sadly unique to the UK within Europe. I somehow imagine going straight back to work the day after Christmas would result in a lot of absences at home.
4. British Christmas songs
Where are Wham? Carols from Kings? Michael Bublé’s Christmas album your parents play at every Sunday roast from November 1st onwards?
5. Mulled wine
The closest I’ve come to mulled wine (which, let’s be honest, is a disappointment at the best of times but we continue to get excited about it every year) is “sangria caliente” at the Christmas market which I saw poured from a huge Costco-esque plastic bottle into a warming barrel. The fact they didn’t just call this “vin chaud” also makes this slightly more confusing.
6. Richard Curtis films being on TV every single day
Also from the 1st November onwards. Same for The Holiday and Home Alone.
7. *normal* Christmas surroundings
At the risk of sounding incredibly ungrateful, Christmas lights and palm trees just don’t go together. You know what does go with Christmas lights? Rain. Idealistically snow, but rain. And wind. And night time falling at 2pm. So much cosier.
8. Over embellished Christmas jumpers
Perhaps it’s just the French who do not seem at all taken by this concept, but no itchy, naff light up Christmas jumpers here, no sir, only minimalist chic ones with some faint snowflakes on. Just what does one wear to the Christmas market?
9. The annual work party
Both a blessing and a curse, depending on how much you like your work mates and your ability to hold house red. While the first and second Fridays of December seem to be set aside as annual Christmas work do dates in the UK, selling out every golf club and hotel in the vicinity, in southern France certainly this sort of soiree occurs in the summer. Abroad, I’d think more along the lines of an early Christmas meal out during your Friday lunch break.
You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and in this case that is Christmas socks and pyjamas, aforementioned Christmas jumpers and CHEAP ADVENT CALENDARS. If refusing to pay €7 for a standard Milka calendar is wrong then honestly I don’t wanna be right.