Kaip mes švenčiame Kalėdas: Tarptautinių klasių mokytojai dalijasi savo švenčių tradicijomis
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How We Celebrate Christmas: International Teachers Share Their Holiday Traditions

At Erudito Licėjus, Christmas greetings echo in almost twenty languages from around the world! Soon, you will hear them too. While we await the grand Christmas greeting from our large international community, we asked our international class teachers to share their thoughts on the meaning of Christmas, their countries’ and families’ holiday traditions, and their personal festive wishes. As you read this text, the majority of teachers will have already packed their bags en route to celebrate the most beautiful holiday season with their families. It’s great to be together!

Kevin Morice


Kevin goes to Ireland every year to celebrate Christmas, where a large, globally scattered family gathers: in Ireland, only his brother, aunt, grandmother, and cousins remain; the other family members—about fifteen half-brothers and half-sisters—are scattered around the world, while Kevin’s parents live abroad. “It’s our tradition to gather everyone together for Christmas,” says K. Morice.

Once they’re together, they visit markets, listen to street concerts, sing songs, play games, and laugh. Of course, an integral part of their Christmas traditions includes Christmas pudding, stuffed turkey, and, of course, presents. “We have these long Christmas stockings that we hang by the fireplace. The kids love them the most because they find little gifts inside,” smiles the International Baccalaureate mathematics and theory of knowledge teacher. This year, for the first time, he’ll be flying without checked luggage, only carrying hand luggage, so he won’t have time to prepare gifts in advance. But the most important thing is being together.

And what does he personally wish for Christmas? Kevin says that for probably a decade, he hasn’t asked for anything; gifts don’t hold the same significance as they did in his childhood. “However, I still have younger half-brothers and half-sisters, for example, two-year-olds, so I still have someone to buy gifts for,” he smiles.

Kevin also shared another very noble and beautiful tradition: every other Christmas, he and his brother shave their heads and donate the hair to make wigs for children with cancer. The hair must be at least 30 cm long, so they have to grow it for two years.

Nollaig Chridheil! That’s how Kevin wishes everyone a Merry Christmas in Irish.

Katarzyna Christop


I try to go home for Christmas whenever I can, and I am also doing it this year.

I am from Western Poland (Poznań), but my family’s traditions are a mix from different parts of the country. Christmas Eve is the big day in Poland – we decorate the tree, have twelve dishes on the table, and put some hay under the tablecloth. Fun fact, in Western Poland, our gifts come from the “Starman” (Gwiazdor), not Santa Claus like in other places.

I just love the Christmas atmosphere, mainly because it is a chance to spend with my family.

Honestly, I don’t really need anything material, but I am all about experiences. Those are the kind of gifts that I am always up for.

Alex Prabu

US, India

Alex was born in British Columbia, lived in India, worked in Silicon Valley, California, and now calls life in Lithuania his happiness, particularly favoring Kaunas, where he currently resides. Although for the past five years, he flew to America, to California, to celebrate Christmas, this year he remains in Lithuania. “I’ll celebrate with friends who have embraced me in Lithuania, along with their family,” Alex smiles. He insists that he loves the white Lithuanian Christmas, as there’s no snow in California, so the Christmas mood is different there. “I was so happy for the first time, I rejoiced like a child,” Alex recalls his first Christmas in Lithuania.

As a mathematics teacher in the Cambridge program, Alex appreciates various Lithuanian customs and traditions. He says that spending Christmas in Lithuania helped him to love the country more, as he got to know it better. He suggests that every foreigner should stay in Lithuania at least for one Christmas and not miss the opportunity to get to know the country better. “Of course, I miss my family and friends, especially during Christmas, but Lithuanians are very warm and dear people, and the more I’m here, the more I like it,” he rejoices. And although it’s a bit sad that they won’t be able to see each other, the longing is alleviated by the gifts sent to his relatives—he gladly fulfills several wishes of his young half-brother.

When asked about personal wishes, Alex answers that he wants to feel happy. Let’s wish Alex—and ourselves—a snowy Christmas!

George Gatsios


On Thursday, George also hurried off to his family, to his two brothers and parents. The favorite tradition for George, a preschool teacher in the Cambridge program, is the special traditional Greek sweets (such as kourabiedes, melomakarona, and others), spending time with family, and Christmas dinner (often roast chicken with rice or potatoes).

“I think Greek Christmas traditions are quite similar to Lithuanian ones—it’s a religious celebration where family gathers, visits the church, enjoys a traditional dinner, and exchanges gifts.” What gifts is George expecting himself? “I really liked the secret friend tradition at Erudito Licėjus, where every Friday we received such pleasant surprises. But now, I just wish for good health.”

Chloé Boyaval


I do not come from a region in France with strong Christmas traditions. The Christmas tree with the nativity scenes at its foot, the midnight mass with the advent wreath are part of the French traditions. I would also say that the biggest celebration is done on the 24th of December, Christmas eve. Families open their gifts after midnight that night or the morning after on Christmas day.

I spend Christmas with my very close family (parents, sisters and grandparents). Every year my family takes turns. Last year was at my grandmother’s house and this year it will be at my sister’s apartment. We do not follow any particular tradition in my family. Just being together, having a big meal, playing games, listening to our grandparents’ youth stories and opening our gifts all together is what matters.

I do enjoy very much making gifts and obviously receiving them. I like sewing items for my loved ones. Even though this year, I am very late on buying or making everything for everyone. I don’t really have a wishlist. The only thing I asked my grandparents for were French books that I don’t have access to here in Lithuania.

Anne Potesta


Anne isn’t a teacher, but she contributes a lot to help the international community at “Erudito” lyceum grow and communicate more. Although she joined the “Erudito” family only this year, it seems like she’s always been there—talking with Anne, the admissions manager for international classes, about holiday traditions was so enjoyable that it was impossible not to turn on the recorder. However, Anne was very surprised by the traditional Kūčios dinner: “What can you eat if you can’t have milk, meat, cheese, or eggs?” she wondered.

Anne is leaving to celebrate Christmas and New Year at home in Berlin with her mom and her sister’s and brother’s families. “I think we celebrate similarly to Lithuania: we gather for a rich and abundant Kūčios dinner on Christmas Eve, sing Christmas carols (Anne loves to sing—ed. note), which there are plenty of in Germany, unwrap presents, and enjoy each other’s company.” On New Year’s Eve in Germany, it’s customary to watch the black-and-white 1963 film “Dinner for One” (sometimes known as “The 90th Birthday”), directed by Heinz Dunkhase.

Anne also shared another family tradition: since she moved away (approximately six years ago), her mom and sister’s family have been making her a handmade Advent calendar. Children decorate the bags, and inside, there are handmade treats and various small gifts that remind her of home, family, and Germany. The family sends this Advent calendar to Anne, and each time she feels touched to receive such a heartfelt gift. This year, this package, delayed in the mail, finally reached Anne in Vilnius: as we were talking, she received a message from “Lietuvos paštas” that the package was scheduled for delivery the same day. Sometimes, Christmas miracles are very simple…

Peter Venables

United Kingdom

I will be spending the first few days of the winter break in the U.K. seeing family and friends, and then I am looking forward to bringing in the New Year having returned to Lithuania.

I always make sure to watch ‘Die Hard’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in the run-up to Christmas Day, and the last few years I have had a tradition of swimming in the sea on 1st January – we’ll see if that happens this year!

It is mostly an opportunity to be grateful to have friends and family to spend the time with and to enjoy being able to catch-up with what has been happening in everyone’s lives.

Generally speaking the gift I most enjoy receiving is a book! I lost my copy of Jacqueline Rose’s ‘The Plague’ on the train recently, which was one of my favourite pieces of writing of 2023, so, I would be very relieved to take possession of another copy of that. There is a new translation of Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ by Emily Wilson that I would like to read, and Olga Tokarczuk’s ‘The Books of Jacob’, too, would be on my wishlist, alongside Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘Memory for Forgetfulness’ – which I have never been able to find a hardcopy of despite years of attempting to.

Alina Zorina


Unfortunately, due to the war in my county I cannot go home, so I will stay in Lithuania and spend my Christmas in one of my favourite cities – Druskininkai.

My Christmas traditions are – quality time with my family, close friends, a lot of eating and movies! I also love playing with the snow – playing snowballs and building the biggest snowman in the neighbourhood!

Christmas to me is a good opportunity to tell my family and friends what they mean to me and spoil them with presents!

I always write Christmas wish lists and in most of the cases I receive all I want!  For the upcoming Christmas I want good health for all the people I know and a beautiful emerald ring won’t hurt!

Betigül Gokcekoglu


I will be in my hometown Antalya, Turkey this year which I am really looking forward to because of the sunny weather there.

We celebrate new year’s eve with family and friends in Turkey, eat delicious food and play board games. Then go out to see the lively streets. I think the best thing about this time is the Christmas spirit that our students and colleagues have at Erudito Licėjus. It is such a joy to share this with loved ones. I also love Christmas markets!

Health& peace and happiness to everyone!

Fiona ir Jesse Slingerland

Ireland, US

We have been married since 2015. We met in South Korea where we were teaching, so we have spent quite a few years travelling over the Christmas holidays as well. Our ideal Christmas is to spend time with family or friends; while enjoying delicious food wherever we happened to be. In Ireland my family gets together for breakfast and dinner on Christmas Day.

“I like the festiveness of Christmas the most. I’ve lived in countries where Christmas wasn’t a major holiday such as Bahrain and Taiwan, and they would only have minimal Christmas decorations in public places. I enjoy living in a country like Lithuania, where Christmas decorations are everywhere! To me Christmas is a time of celebration, where people get to experience fun and happiness!”, said Jesse.

We are going home to Ireland to spend Christmas with my family. We usually spend Christmas in Ireland and then go Jesse’s family in the US over the summer. “Christmas is my favourite time of year!”, says Fiona. “I really enjoy all of the festivities. Christmas is also a time of year when I get to see a lot of my friends from my hometown and catch up with them.”

“Christmas in Ireland is a very special time of year!”, agrees Jesse. “At home in New Jersey USA, I would open presents in the morning with my family. Since I am half Jewish, my family would normally have a Jewish breakfast Christmas morning, where my Grandmother and my Uncles (who are fully Jewish) would come over to celebrate “Chanukkah” on Christmas Day (even if it technically wasn’t Channukah anymore)!”

“My wish for Christmas is to spend time with my family. My grandmother celebrates her 105th birthday on December 27th, so it’s always a special occasion for us all”, shares Fiona.

Jens Vandevyvere


I am going to spend one week in Belgium and one week in Lithuania. On Christmas Eve, we usually have a family dinner and open presents. On Christmas, we usually invite the extended family over for lunch.

For me, Christmas is a time to spend with family or other loved ones and to relax during my time off and enjoy the Christmas decorations, Christmas markets and the cold weather.

I like to spend time with people who I might not get to see as often as I would like during the year. I don’t have a wishlist per se: I feel like I have everything I want at the moment (long may it continue, hopefully).