Everybody wants to be home for Christmas, even migrants

Flight and train tickets are hopelessly sold out by now. But what about those who cannot make it?

Slovak family in Australia builds a sandman instead of a snowman for Christmas. (Source: Petra Kizeková)

At Christmas time, traditions spring up to the surface of our globalised lives. For a while, we are closer to each other and feel that we belong to humanity. But against the backdrop of Christmas customs, the differences between us acquire stronger colours. You might feel like at home in Slovakia, but that does not necessarily mean you are a fan of singing Slovak folk Christmas carols or eating sauerkraut.

I cried at the end of my first, and so far my only, Christmas abroad. Hard to say if my tears were due to homesickness or that I did not feel like eating pizza on Christmas Eve is a dignified way to mark the most important day of the holidays – at least in Slovakia.

My husband was sincerely shocked to see how Slovaks handle their traditional Christmas fish, the carp. He did not mind so much observing the confused animal swimming in my grandmother’s bathtub, struggling to breathe. He also held it down on the kitchen towel when it was time for the carp to make its passage from the bathtub to the Christmas table. But seeing the horseshoe-shaped slices of carp, resembling a somewhat sadder version of fish and chips, was too much for him.

“How can you eat that with all those bones sticking in between your teeth?” he asked, astonished.

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