Togetherness was the theme of our small Christmas dinner; all of the non-Norwegians that spent their first Christmas in the land of Odin.
For some of us, this Christmas was not about being next to our families, but rather about understanding and accepting other traditions; to somehow replace the warmth of a familiar face or voice.
Detelina is from Bulgaria and has been working in Norway for a year. Due to work-related issues, she had no chance to go back home and spend the winter holidays with her husband and her 6 year-old daughter.
She said that the thing that she missed the most was “the tons of presents I used to find under the Christmas tree in the morning and the love of my family”.
Detelina didn’t receive any presents this year, but still hopes that a package awaits her somewhere in the lost mail. She told me that people in Bulgaria don’t eat meat for the 40 days before Christmas; not even on Christmas Eve.
Instead “we have a round loaf of bread which is divided by the oldest family member and it contains a coin. Whoever finds the coin draws the lucky card.” Although she didn’t feel so lucky this Christmas Eve, she is grateful for her job, which allows her to send money to her family.
Hajira is from Malawi and said that she liked the way Norwegians celebrate Christmas: “I like the fact that the shops are nicely decorated and that people make a lot of delicious food this time of year”. Although she is a Christian, her family celebrates the birth of Jesus in a quiet way.
She’s happy with her life in Norway and is willing to accept and celebrate Norwegian traditions because “they are joyful and cozy”.
Some of us foreigners seek togetherness by staying close to people who also miss their families. Each of us shares a little piece of the Norwegian Christmas by learning how to cook “ribbe”, or indulging in the guilty pleasure of eating reindeer meat.
As for me, the thing that I miss most is the friendly fighting with my sister, the stomach aches after Christmas dinner, and the smell of a cold Romanian winter night. Nevertheless I have a good feeling about this Christmas. It’s the first one I’ve spent away from my family, but also the first one where I’ve felt another type of togetherness.
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