Christmas Pickles, Holidays Away from Home, and Giving Back

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on December 22, 2017. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.


First, I would like to say Happy Holidays from the Escape Artist family to you! I hope this newsletter is getting to you at a time of celebration, happiness, and cheer.

When you are living abroad, or beginning to take that journey, you find that Christmas looks different all around the world. Each country has their own set of traditions, stories, songs, and customs. The holiday season is beautiful – and one of the most beautiful parts of Christmas is that, no matter where you go, the holiday season is about giving.

In this week’s round-up, I dive into what makes Christmas unique for different cultures, how to survive Christmas as an expat away from home, and I’ll introduce you to a group of caring expats.


Aaah… It’s That Time of Year for the Classic Christmas… Pickle?

The holidays are in full swing, and every family celebrates the holidays in their own special way. Many exchange gifts, while some spend the day in their pajamas, keeping warm by the heat of a fireplace.

This year I wanted to see how people from all around the world celebrate Christmas, and I found some pretty noteworthy traditions. One of my favorites is the Christmas pickle in Germany. On Christmas Eve, parents hide a pickle in the tree, and the first child to find the pickle receives a gift.

I’ve seen Christmas trees decorated with so many different kinds of decorations, but I’ve never seen one decorated with spiders! In the Ukraine, they do just that. Instead of the Christmas lights and ornaments most of us are used to, they decorate their trees with spiders and webs.

Christmas is known for its cheer, but in some places you can even find a little bit of FEAR! The children of Greece fear the Kallikantzaroi, a race of goblins that wreak havoc during the 12 days of Christmas. The Krampus is an evil Christmas devil who is said to harm naughty children.

And I thought Santa coming into my house to eat my cookies was scary enough.

As I read how different we all are, it reminds me that there is so much to learn from each other. Although we don’t have a Christmas pickle or some kind of evil demon to fear, these interesting tidbits of culture are what motivate my journey as an escape artist.


You Won’t be Home for Christmas?

If you are like many expats all over the globe, you may not be able to make it home for the holidays. Though this may not be ideal, there’s no reason you can’t make this holiday special in your new home. Here are a couple tips for getting through the holidays as an expat.

Embrace your new home’s traditions. One of the best parts of living abroad is trying new things. As you read above, many countries have some strange holiday traditions and lore to get behind. It could be fun, and you can tell some great stories at home next year.

Make new traditions. While staying in your new home, you can also start some of your own traditions that include members of the expat community. If you are in a city with many expats, chances are you will run into a few who are also away for the holidays. Invite them over for dinner, volunteer with a charity, or do whatever the Christmas spirit inspires you to do.

Go somewhere new. If you aren’t up for staying in your new home, maybe you can treat yourself to a bit of traveling for Christmas. Seeing a new place may bring you the excitement and joy you were looking for this holiday season.

Don’t try to recreate your Christmas at home. I’m sure you have fond memories of your holiday traditions, and you may want to try to bring that same feeling to your new country, but it won’t be the same. Instead of setting yourself up to be disappointed, prepare yourself for an expat Christmas, which can be just as exciting, cheerful, and festive!


Expats Bring Christmas Cheer to HanoiConsumer Resource Guide

Christmas is the season of giving, and that’s exactly what a group of expats has dedicated themselves to this holiday season. They took the time to give back to the community that has embraced them.

The group, led by Canadian expat, Naim Hydel, started Hanoi Christmas Kitchen, a project that hopes to give to the less fortunate in Hanoi, Vietnam. Using the connections he made in the Hanoi expat community, the young musician gathered friends to begin delivering gifts and meals to the less fortunate of the city. The kitchen began last year and has attracted many members since.

With the help of local cafes and restaurants, the group prepared and distributed over 250 meals, which they cooked themselves. They also handed out gift packages that included basic hygiene products like toothbrushes, soap, and towels.

Expats giving back to their new home is truly an inspiration to those looking to make new holiday traditions abroad.


Whether your Christmas is snow-filled with family and friends, or you are lounging on the beach on the Caribbean, the holiday season has so much potential to bring joy to yourself and others. If you are away from home for the first time, have fun and enjoy some of your new traditions. Maybe you are looking for a new way to celebrate – think about giving back to your community!

No matter how you are celebrating this year, be safe, have fun, and never stop exploring.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Whether you are planning on living, working, retiring, or investing overseas, Escape Artist can help you every step of the way.

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This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on December 22, 2017. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.