Pre-Christmas in England

Between studying rapidly for the finals for the classes which have been really easy up till right now to coordinating dates for visiting the Christmas markets in every surrounding town, December is a busy month in Manchester. Britons take Christmas very seriously, not only starting celebrations comparatively early (due to the whole no thanksgiving thing) but also planning and attending celebrations of all kinds every week. Exactly one week after thanksgiving, the formal dinner was held in Owen’s Park for our court and the surrounding ones. Our usual drab dining hall was transformed completely into a Christmas wonderland with decorated trees, long tables set with Christmas crackers, decorations, and seats waiting for formally dressed students. We enjoyed a traditional English Christmas dinner, which is similar in many ways to a typical thanksgiving dinner. They usually eat turkey, potatoes, carrots, etc. The main differences are that stuffing comes in little balls here and saran wrap is purple, so if you ever come eat here and need to save some for later, it’ll look cool. We had a good time opening our crackers and immediately putting the contents on our heads.

Last Wednesday, I went to the Manchester Christmas markets with the Manchester and Lancaster GlobaLinks students and our resident coordinator. The markets in Manchester are beautiful and expansive and every food there is the best thing you’ve ever smelled. I’ve been three times and every time I try something new. I’d had the joy of ordering a lager in German, burning my mouth on Dutch pancakes, getting a toothache from eating so much meter-long licorice, and crying over how good chocolate-covered strawberry kebabs are. After we explored the main part of the markets, we hopped on a train to a nearby town and had dinner at a traditional English carvery. This was by far the best meal that I’ve had here. Inside, there was a roaring fire and a big decorated tree and we sat and ate and ate and ate. They had different meats that they’d carve for you and then a buffet style dinner. The type of food was also very similar to thanksgiving but it was delicious and the perfect ending to a cold day outside.

The most recent Christmas festivity I’ve been to was on sunday night at St. Peter’s Chaplaincy in Manchester. There was a carol service held for international society students in the venue where I have one of my lectures regularly. I’ve just recently learnt that the chaplaincy is not a Catholic one, but one that hosts a variety of different services weekly. It was clear during the service that all who were involved were very welcoming and open about religion, two factors which I imagine are important when entertaining students from all backgrounds and religions in one service. It was a beautiful service, we sung lots of Christmas hymns, heard an amazing harpist, two choirs in two different languages, and heard lots of scripture readings in different languages as well. I was surprised to find out the pastor was American and had the chance to talk with him briefly after the surface.

As much fun as Christmas has been here, I am ready to go home for the holidays. Manchester has grown on me so much since the first week that I was here but I am ready to be with my family and friends and be in a familiar surrounding. Luckily, the markets are perfect for getting all your Christmas shopping done early and having presents you know they won’t already have.

Leave a Reply