Monday, 22 December 2014

Home for Christmas

Recently I was asked the question 'Are you home for Christmas?'  I replied that yes I was although for the first time we were going out for Christmas dinner.  The reply threw me,

'When do you leave?'

Um, well I think they are serving dinner at 2pm?
Ah.... they were asking me if I was going to England for Christmas,  I'd completely missed the point of the question!

I don't have anything against going back to England for a visit, in fact I'd love to be able to go (not now, far too cold!) to meet up with friends and replenish our wardrobes but I wouldn't fancy going back for Christmas.

I know that having my parents here means that I don't have the pull and the same reason for wanting to be there over the festive season which is the obvious reason for many to return. I've heard many people here say that Christmas in Cyprus just isn't the same and it doesn't feel 'Christmassy' but I disagree.

Maybe it's the fact I have children which gives me the reason / excuse to attend all the Christmas events but I'm guessing the same would apply in England too.

Maybe it's the lack of 'Christmas food' in the shops and the endless boxes of pre-packed party food and 'Christmas treats' -  but it's easier not to blow half your years shopping budget on one month here when you have to make most of it yourself.

Maybe it's the temperature but after being here for 5 years it feels more than chilly enough for me now.

Maybe it's the sunshine but trees and tinsel look prettier in the sunlight than through rain (and we've had several grey rainy days lately - it's  novelty but I don't get the excitement they create here)

Maybe it's the lack of festive programs on the TV but I don't know many people without internet streaming, web TV or an equivalent now.

Maybe it's the calmer approach to Christmas and the lack of aggressive advertising from October onward,  but surely that's only a good thing!

Maybe its the lack of things they need to be doing and people they need to visit, but many people hate the chaotic business of all of that.

Maybe it's just that they miss their friends and family and their own traditions - that one does make sense to me, but for me we have new traditions and they are all based here.

Five years ago, it didn't feel like Christmas here for me but we were fresh off the plane, having left shops full of Christmas goods, songs and decorations starting to appear through the streets and houses (even though it was NOVEMBER!)   The sun confused me, and our 6 month old Leo had no idea what was 'supposed' to be happening anyway.  I missed Christmas meet ups and events that had been arranged while I was still being invited to them with people not knowing that I'd have left the country.

There didn't seem to be much to do either with the exception of the school fair on the British Army base of Ayios Nikolaos, and the switching on of the Agia Napa Christmas lights,  but I don't know if that was because there were not many events or because I didn't know where to look to find out about them.

The events are increasing each year it seems and this year there has been a huge choice which was great to see.  (I was also able to list them all in one handy place on the Famagusta Parents Network which I hope helped some people find out about them.)  There has been Christmas markets, Craft sessions, pantomimes, shows and carol services in Greek or English,  each town has had an event to mark the switching on of the Christmas lights, and most have had extra attractions like trips on the red buses or pony rides and visits from Santa.

I love Christmas, especially the lead up to it but I like to do it my way. I like that it's quite low key here in Cyprus compared to England and for me I like that we do what we want to do, there's no competing for the best decorations, the most 'party food' you can buy, the stresses of buying presents for a long list of people and the visits all over the country that many people have to make.

Not long to go now...... we're getting excited!

What about you?  Do you prefer to spend Christmas at home or away?   With lots of people or do you prefer it quieter?

And especially for you expats,  does Christmas feel like Christmas in your new country?


  1. As soon as I saw your title I knew what this post was going to be about. I think you are the most successful expat I know. Have a very Merry Christmas. xxxx

  2. Ah that's nice to hear :) Happy new year to you and DD xx


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