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Lily Zuelke, Reporter • May 8, 2023

Exchange Students Share Christmas Traditions


The World Language Club is celebrating the traditions of Spring Lake’s exchange students Wednesday, during both lunchtimes on Wednesday, December 20, just in time for the holiday. Students are welcome to attend Mrs. Peterson’s room (560) and get to know more about the students’ unique traditions. Cookies and hot cocoa are provided!

Spring Lake High School has four exchange students: two from France, one from the Netherlands, and one from Spain. All of our exchange students celebrate Christmas in their own ways. Most countries’ celebrations last throughout the whole month of December.  

In France, most celebrations start on December 24. Arthur Planchenault spends his Christmas with his family. They gather around the table and eat a meal for 6-7 hours. His family’s favorite dish is Oie Farcie de Noel. This dish is roasted goose traditionally with vegetables served around it. They also enjoy fish, snails, frogs, lots of seafood, and desserts. 

Arthur’s favorite part of his Christmas celebration is eating and seeing his family for hours. He opens presents with his extended family on the night of the 24th, and opens presents with his family on the morning of the 25th. 

Also in France, Juliette Avonde starts her Christmas festivities with lunch on the 24th. This meal usually takes place until 2 a.m. the next day or later. They eat a lot of scallops, turkey, vegetables, cheese and wine, duck liver, ice cream rolls, and oysters. 

In Juliette’s family, her dad dresses up as Santa to surprise the kids. On the night of the 24th, Juliette opens presents with her family. Her favorite gift to get is an orange, which is typically given by her grandparents. The tradition of being given an orange originates from the 1860s and symbolizes wealth and power. Juliette also enjoys a chocolate candy with a firecracker inside so when the wrapper is pulled off it pops off. The chocolate usually includes a quote from a famous person inside. 

Christmas in the Netherlands starts on December 5. This day is when Julia Gootjes and her family start to put up decorations and get into the Christmas spirit. On the same day, the kids get presents from Sinterklaas, their version of Santa Claus. Sinterklaas comes from Spain to the Netherlands with his boat on a two week trip. 

On Christmas, Julia and her family all sit down and eat together. They usually eat gourmetten. Gourmetten is a dish where a small group of people sit down at the table and each make their own dish in small pans. After they eat they get to open their second set of presents, the first being on December 5. Julia says her favorite part of the Christmas season is when her family begins to start putting presents under the tree and it looks very cozy. 

For Christmas in Spain there are also two days of presents: on Christmas and on Three Kings Day. On the night of the 24th, Patricia Salvador goes to church and has dinner with her family. Christmas morning is when she opens her first gifts. Within her family they usually do secret santa. At lunchtime her whole family gets together and eats a big meal. 

In Spain they do not have elves, stockings, or outside-of-the-home decorations, but they always have a real tree decorated in their homes. On Three Kings Day, Patricia and her family always eat Roscon de Reyes. This is a sweet bread dessert garnished with “jewels” of dried fruit usually with a present inside of it. Patricia’s favorite tradition is going with her family to eat chocolate with churros and then visiting El Pilar. 

Whether you call him Pere Noel, Sinterklaas, or Papa Noel, Christmas is special wherever you celebrate it! Join the World Languages Club for Christmas Around the World in Mrs. Peterson’s room (560) on Wednesday, December 20th. Contact Mrs. Peterson with any questions on how to attend or join the World Languages Club!

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Kaitlyn Palmer, Reporter
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