International students reflect on home holidays

Several Butler international students gather on Butler’s campus. Photo courtesy of Miguel Moreno.


With Thanksgiving break just a few days away, Butler students are preparing to make the most of the time off and spend time with family. But not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving. International students all have unique traditions of their own back home.

Butler welcomes students from all over the world — Europe, Asia, Australia — whose home countries have vastly different cultural traditions from America’s. Christina Egger, a senior English major from Austria, celebrates multiple holidays in winter back home.

“We have Krampus parades,” Egger said. “All the kids who were nice during the year get rewarded, and all the children who have been bad get put in a sack by Krampus … The first day is Krampus day, where you put your shoes out in front of your door and in the morning, you have a sack of peanuts and nectarines and chocolates in there.”

Many of the international students at Butler celebrate Christmas in their home country. Most people celebrate it similarly to how people in the U.S. do, with a tree and presents and a big family meal, but the food is the distinguishing factor.

“We eat sausages, potato, herring and janssons frestelse,” said Rasmus Eidmen, a junior education major from Uppsala, Sweden. Janssons frestelse is a type of Swedish casserole. “At least every old person eats it. It’s a tradition to have it.”

Rhona Geary, a junior finance student from Ireland, talked about celebrating St. Stephen’s Day on Jan. 9.

“During St. Stephen’s Day, there’s a lot of sporting events,” Geary said. “We have an Irish sport called hurling, it’s played with a stick and a ball… It’s a competition to see who can hit the ball the farthest in the least amount of strokes, and the winner gets a prize.”

One of the universal traditions for students from all over the world is celebrating the New Year. Hikaru Miyazaki is a sophomore international studies student from Kyoto, Japan. She said the New Year is an important family holiday in Japan.

“We gather with our family, and every food is representative of something,” Miyazaki said. “We decide what our goals are, and what we want to do that year, and we tell everyone in the gathering, and have a feast.”

For Dhruv Kumar, a junior accounting and business major from Sydney, Australia, the New Year is celebrated with a massive fireworks show.

“I’ll be biased, but we have the best fireworks in the world,” Kumar said. “People come two days before and stay in the downtown area. They camp out to try and get a better view.”

Everyone has their own holiday traditions that they will be celebrating, whether it be in the U.S. or in their home country. But just because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving at home doesn’t mean international students are passing up the opportunity to celebrate here.

Several students will be celebrating Thanksgiving with Butler diversity ambassadors, American students who help orient international students to campus, or family friends. Others, like Eidmen and Kumar, are using the holiday to travel around the United States.

Some have celebrated Thanksgiving before. Egger has a Thanksgiving tradition of her own back home.

“My football friends in Austria usually do a Thanksgiving feast because we watch football all the time,” she said. “All the football players from my team come together, but it’s just something that just we do.”

Many international students, Egger included, will spend part of their break in New Orleans with the volunteer-study tour run by the Diversity Center, where they will give service to disadvantaged communities in the spirit of the season.


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