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How to make the most of your Christmas holidays

Written by  Natacha Cullinan
Christmas holidays Christmas holidays kelp1966
As final coursework deadlines approach for the end of term, most of you will be thinking of kicking back, relaxing in front of the box munching on a mince pie, or catching up with some friends from back home with some mulled wine for company... Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these options, but what you could do, to really make the most of the holidays, would be to organise some of these activities:

Foreign cooking - learn how to create a new dish in a foreign language
Simply type in WordReference the word ‘recipe’ and look up how it’s said in different languages, and you can then type in the translation of your choice into google, with the additional translation of ‘Christmas’. From there on, you can find thousands of sites dedicated to showing you the best of the festive foods out there, with step by step recipes. You can then pick one, or many, afterall, you can never have too many bûche de Nöel or Strüdel for Christmas; no one is counting the pounds...You could also check out foreign cocktails, or drinks. Ponche, for example, is a sort of popular mulled wine made in South America - treat your family and friends to something new. You never know, you might be onto a winner and it might even make a great present for your relatives and mates. Just make sure you don’t try it out on the day, and more to the point, you look for the recipe in your studied language!

Christmas carols
Check out the Christmas carols from around the world here, at Santa’s.Net, a great website that deals with Christmas traditions, recipes and songs from around the world. Alternatively, you could raid through your dad’s collection of dodgy Christmas CDs (or maybe that’s just round my house) and look for the songs in another language. Researching this article gave me the chance to come across classics, such as this gem: The marvel that is YouTube.

Christmas DYI gifts
Again, we’ve got YouTube to thank for this. Why not type in ‘Christmas homemade gifts’ or ‘Christmas homemade cards’ into WordReference and get scouting the web for ideas and tips ‘n’ tricks to make a wallet-friendly gift or carte de Noël...Might sound a little lame, but you can get into the Christmas spirit the foreign way - by looking up videos from all over the world!

Traditions and customs worldwide
Santas.Net comes up with the goods yet again, supplying a list of traditions around the world. You could look for these by country, or by language, too and try and implement a few at home or round your uni house...Eating your grapes come midnight as the Spaniards do, going to Midnight Mass as villagers do in France, or even getting your 12 dishes on the 24th as they do in Bulgaria may just well prove to be a success in your home. 

Mini-shopping trips, destination: Christmas markets abroad
What you could do, if you’re high on a little cash, is book a cheap flight to a place in Europe, where Christmas is celebrated in style, and with fantastic markets to boot...If you’re studying German, you’re in luck as most of the markets are out in either Germany or Austria. Of the many listed across the internet, perhaps the most famous are the Munich and Salzburg markets, though you could try Heidelberg too, if you fancy something less touristy. If you’re learning Dutch, you could head over to Dordrecht, for a taste of how it’s done over in the Netherlands. In France, your best bet is to head over to the Alsace region, which, with its close proximity and ties with Germany, has a lot to say for itself, vis a vis Christmas marchés. Try Strasbourg or Mulhouse, though you could visit Paris for the weekend and head to La Défense too. As for Poland, Kraków is where it’s at, apparently. Italy, too, has a few, notably in the province of Bolzano, Mercato di Natale and Bosco Incantato are two of the most reputable ones, though there are quite a few in this region. You'll get to practise your lingo abroad, and get some cute gifts as well. 

So there you have it, a few ideas of what to do during your month long break, in between revision or sorting out your next teaching block’s reading list! Ho, ho, ho, Christmas is nearly here!

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