Christmas abroad is hard. Not only are you missing your friends and family, but you miss the traditions associated with the holiday too. So, naturally, I was quite disgruntled to have to work on Christmas this year. I was homesick, cranky, and dreading the normalcy to come when I arrived at school.
I expected Christmas to pass unnoticed but was pleasantly surprised at how big a deal our school made out of it. We missed the first two periods of class, had a hilarious nativity performance, received gifts from the school, and sang Christmas (and not-so-Christmassy) songs. We had a vegetarian Thai food party for lunch, chocolates for dessert, and were treated like it was our birthday (it is the ‘foreigner’ holiday after all in Buddhist dominated Thailand). All in all, it was strange but quite enjoyable and I’m glad I went into work because it was the first year that it actually felt like Christmas! Well, once I forgot about the 90 degrees weather…
The day kicked off with a speech from the head teacher (in Thai, naturally), and was followed up with the presentation of gifts to the Foreign English teachers. I thought that was a really sweet gesture, them making it a big deal on our behalf. I felt very well-taken care of.
Next, one of our lovely Foreign teachers had to try to explain the history of Christmas and get the students to answer his basic questions. It took a painful 15 minutes to answer: “Which religion celebrates Christmas” (Christianity) and “Whose birth does Christmas celebrate?” (Jesus).
Then there was a ‘Nativity’ performance which was hands-down the most hilarious nativity re-enactment I’ve ever seen. One of my favorite co-teachers led the performance and had the students do an interpretive dance to a song for 5-year-olds about the story of Jesus’ birth. I really couldn’t help but laugh hysterically when the wise men were miming to each other or when ‘Mary’ brought out baby Jesus. It definitely lifted my Christmas spirits.
Afterwards, Christmas carols were sung while ‘Santa’, one of our older foreign teachers, passed candy out from a sack. The carols were hilarious since no one really knew the words, and the kids were going absolutely nuts trying to catch the flying candy. Also, the head teacher handed me and another teacher the mic so that we could lead the carol. So awkward but so fun!
Lastly, our Head teacher ordered Thai food for the whole office and made sure to get vegetarian dishes for us non-carnivores, which was really sweet. It was delicious. I had brought in chocolate toffees that my boyfriend’s parents gave us when they visited, and the Thai teachers went nuts for them. They couldn’t stop telling us how delicious they were. Most of them had never had toffee before! All in all, it was a lot of fun and was a great day for Christmas festivities.
Have you celebrated Christmas at your school before? What was it like? Let me know in the comments below!