Boxing Day, Noche Buena and other international holidays

golf course
Mike Hearne’s Boxing Day traditions include playing golf. (Photo by Guy Renard used under Creative Commons license.)

Matthew Wellman, Staff reporter

Throughout the holiday season, each family has its traditions. Most of them are centered on their culture. Most of us probably have never thought about what other cultures do around the holidays, so I asked three of our international students what their families do for the holidays.

Mike Hearne (Wales, U.K.) 

“We don’t really do the usual stuff except on the day after Christmas, the 26th. In the UK, it’s called Boxing Day. I have no idea why. I always thought it was Boxing Day because everyone throws out their boxes from presents, but on Boxing Day I play golf. There is an annual tournament at most golf clubs. Some other things people do on Boxing Day is a charity swim in the sea, which is bonkers because the sea is very, very cold! People play soccer with friends and then everyone goes out in the night and hangs out with their friends.  For New Years, people throw parties all over. This year I am going to a fancy dress party where there is a local band playing and having lots of fun. That’s about it!”

Luis Hernandez (Dominican Republic) 

“My family in particular likes to get together the night before Christmas and enjoy a big meal. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving here. We all get together and just play games and enjoy family time together. Usually the night before Christmas is called Noche Buena or Night of the Good where people get together and give thanks for what has happened to them during the year. New Years usually is like a big get-together. Everybody is out in the streets waiting for the New Year and hanging around with their loved ones.”

Carlos Font (Puerto Rico) 

“We usually wake up around 10 on Christmas, my mom makes breakfast, and we start opening presents. In the afternoon, around 3 o’clock, we go to my uncle’s house where we eat and open more presents. In Puerto Rico, The Three Kings day is probably as important as Christmas. It’s basically a second Christmas where you get more presents and hang out with the family. For New Years, we have a big family party, and we have typical Puerto Rican food. People light fireworks and spend the whole night with their family.”