Holidays Around the World

11 December 2017

Find out how the different cultures within CAP celebrate the holiday season!


Dr Roannie Ng Shiu

How do you celebrate Christmas?

“Always at my parents’ house, in Auckland,” says Dr Ng Shiu, Convenor of Pacific Studies. “We do a very late lunch with all the aunties, uncles and cousins. So any time from about 12 onwards, we have 30 to 60 people coming through.”

What does Christmas mean to you?

“Family and food!” she laughs. “Both my parents are the youngest of eleven, so for us it’s always about catching up with aunties, uncles and cousins.”

“Being Samoan, family is very big. Everyone always tries to get together.”

What special food do you usually prepare?

“One of our favourites is called Palusami, which is baby taro leaves with coconut cream. We also do a fish dish that’s in a husk coconut, again with coconut cream. It’s done in an umu - an earth oven. We also make pineapple pie. It’s kind of like a lemon meringue but the filling is a pineapple custard.”


Jonathan Le Bourhis

How do you celebrate Christmas?

“I don’t have many plans yet for Christmas – that’s the thing when you are an international student here,” says Jonathan Le Bourhis, a student in the Master of Asia Pacific Studies. Jonathan is originally from France, but has been living in Australia and Asia for the past five years.

“Before I came to ANU, I was studying in Tasmania. There, we’d usually have our Christmas dinner with friends. I was living in a share-house with maybe four or five other people – international students too, so we’d all cook something and share.”

“I guess that’s kind of equivalent to what you would have in Europe, except instead of family it’s friends. And instead of snowing, it’s 35 degrees outside!”

Does Christmas mean something special to you?

“Religiously, no. But it’s a moment that I like. It’s one of the few moments really where we can actually catch up with family or friends organise something special for the occasion.”

“I usually like the snowy atmosphere of Christmas – so here it’s a bit different. But I still enjoy that it’s a nice excuse to catch up with friends who maybe don’t live close by.”

Do you ever prepare a special food for Christmas?

“Me, specifically no, because I’m not as good a cook as maybe my grandparents would be. But back in France, we’d usually do something like a turkey, with a lot of veggies, foie gras, bread, and champagne. It’s usually quite heavy food – we take a couple of kilos! But it’s a really nice time.”


Sekar Kinasih

How do you celebrate Christmas?

“I’m a Muslim myself, and of course Indonesia is a major Muslim-populated country,” says Sekar Kinasih, an Indonesian student in the Master of Asia Pacific Studies program. “I would say that some people, our Christian friends, do celebrate Christmas – but for me it’s not as big as the Muslim holidays.”

Is the holiday season still an important time of year for you?

“Of course. It’s the only time when families gather. People who work in the cities go back to their hometowns. We the children, and the unmarried kids, often receive some money from our parents, uncles and aunties.”

Is there a special dish you might prepare for the celebration?

“For Eid al-Fitr, the Muslims’ biggest celebration day, we have a special food made from coconut milk with cumin and chicken, and we eat it with rice.”


Professor Yanyan Wang

How do you celebrate Christmas?

“I’m from a Chinese background, but my husband is from Germany,” says Professor Wang, lecturer in Chinese at the School of Culture, History & Language. “So we carry on the European tradition.”

“On Christmas Eve we have a family dinner, and we open the presents. Then on Christmas Day, the whole family gets together for lunch. We usually eat seafood. So Christmas Eve is European style, and Christmas Day is Australian style.”

“This year, I’m preparing Christmas lunch for 22 relatives! Including my parents, my sister’s family, my son’s family, my stepdaughter’s family.”

What does the holiday season mean to you?

“Relaxing, first. And family gathering together, of course.”

Do you ever prepare a special food for Christmas?

“Yes! As I said, we carry on the European tradition, so on Christmas Eve, rice pudding is a must for our family. The rice is cooked with milk, and after cooking we add a lot of cream, and some almonds. We eat it with cherries.”

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team