Written by Antu Datta

With the start of my studies abroad this year, my life has been blessed with new experiences. Where I  come from, Bangladesh, Christmas is not widely celebrated so I didn’t know much about the celebration. So, I have been eagerly waiting for the day to come to finally meet SANTA CLAUS!

In Finland, you can feel the Christmas vibe from very early December. This winter wonderland became a place of light with Christmas decorations everywhere. It felt like the town has wearing a crown of light.

My favourite thing is to see the Christmas trees & lights in front of the houses and on the streets. Especially the Christmas market in Helsinki. If you visit it, it’ll surely fill you with Christmas feelings as it happened to me. Unlike in Bangladesh, the celebration & excitement are really impressive here. Everyone is waiting for the snowy Santa. Stores have various offers for Christmas and in the university, clubs arrange programs and offer free food for everyone.

My last Christmas started with the first advent Sunday prayer and with making traditional buns with my local family. We also set up the Christmas tree and hung the Christmas lights at the window. Christmas songs night was a very special event which I never experienced before; and singing with friends from various cultures was real fun. Dancing in the pre-Christmas party made me feel the vibe. My friends have taught me some Finnish Christmas song as well.

This year I will celebrate Christmas with my local family in my university town in Finland. I am so excited for the day to come. I have never seen how people really celebrate Christmas back in Bangladesh. I will go to the Church with them on the eve of Christmas to attend the mass. Later I want to see the religious & cultural programs here. I will sing Christmas songs along with my friends! Then I am invited to my local family’s place for Christmas special foods. We will light candles and wait for Santa to come. I am so excited to meet SANTA CLAUS! We will cut Christmas cakes and take photos with Santa. We will drink the special Gloggi for Christmas.

The next morning, I will visit another Church nearby to enjoy the Christmas day special programs. Later I will go again to my local family’s home to celebrate with the little kids. I have been told that some surprises are waiting – can’t wait to see what.

After coming to Finland and feeling the vibes, I want say one thing: Christmas celebration is not only about the religious traditions. Christmas means bonding and is a light of happiness which pushes darkness away to bring the new light of prosperity. The experience of Christmas celebration with new friends in a new environment is something very special and a lifelong memory to me.