Christmas will be different this year; traditions and dinner will be enjoy together over video calls, presents will be left on door steps and hugs will be sent through the air, but this isn’t going to stop any of us sharing the Christmas spirit.

We have had a great time this year sharing in the lives of some of our staff and in the spirit of Christmas we thought we would share with you a few of our Yeovil Hospital family and their usual traditions for the big day.

Orthodox Christmas

Bodgan Serbanescu
Domestic Assistant

“I am Orthodox and so is the rest of my family. In my religion Christmas is one of the most important holidays.”

Before Christmas, we fast for 40 days from the 15November until the 25 December. This symbolises the cleansing of our souls.”

On Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day most children go door to door carolling, dressed in traditional costumes.” On Christmas Day the gifts are given to everyone, and the whole family gathers at the table for a Christmas meal. Many different traditional foods are prepared, and we have a rich dinner.”

Sanjit Das
Associate Specialist Urology

“I am Hindu, and at this time of the year has no specific celebratory connotations. However, India is a cauldron of different religions, languages and culture, so I have always celebrated Christmas and New Year. Not necessarily from the religious aspect, as in we don’t go to mass as such but purely from the celebratory mood in the community , the carol singing, the family and friends getting together and the eating, drinking and making merry.”

On one occasions we were flying to India on Christmas day, with a very festive British Airways crew and getting served turkey and Christmas pudding!”

Emma’s feast

Emma Symonds
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor

“I have really thought about this question as I have always considered our family Christmas to be quite ordinary. Fun, loud, crazy but ordinary. But after speaking to my husband who is White British, hailing from Coventry I have seen it through his eyes.

My mom is White British, born in Bolton, and my Dad was born in Jamaica. He came over as a young boy. Our Christmas have always been about family, an abundance of twinkling lights and of course food! Food always places a major role in any Jamaican celebration so at Christmas we have a mixture of Jamaican and English dishes.

When we were young we used to get up at the crack of dawn, it was always dark outside and go into my parents room. My Dad had always told us if we go down stairs all the presents would disappear, so we would sit at the top of the stairs, inching down but not daring to go any lower than the 3rd or 4th step. Dad would tease us by brushing his teeth and then going down to “check” if Santa had been. He would actually be turning on the Christmas lights and the video camera. The entire downstairs was decorated with fairly lights.

Once he had turned the kettle on he would shout up “He’s been.” and me and my two brothers would run down those stairs like we only had seconds to get to the presents before they would actually disappeared. The presents would be ripped open, Dad would be lay on the floor covered in wrapping paper and Mom would be trying to stuff it all in a black bag.

Then comes dinner. Dinner has steadily gotten larger and larger as our family has grown. We all go round to my parents’ house, me, my brothers, our partners and all the kids (11).  Dinner would always consist of jerk chicken with dumplings (There is always a fight for dumplings, so Mom makes extra and hides them in the pan) rice and peas, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, sprouts, carrots and potatoes in a seasoned spicy gravy and carrot juice. The carrot juice is a Jamaican recipe, made up of freshly squeezed carrot, condensed milk, nutmeg and stout! You did read that right. Stout!  As a child, I remember sitting in Miss Blossom house at Christmas with the Carrot Stout drink and wishing I could throw it down the sink but you did not upset Miss Blossom. She was a proud, commanding black woman who deserved no less than utmost respect but Oh My! That Carrot juice with stout was something that curled my toes. As an adult we now enjoy it but without the stout, and it is delicious.

Dinner is always a big event where we sit at the table as a family for most of the afternoon. My husband who first experienced our families Christmas 12 years ago said that he felt so welcome, laughing the whole time and it was less structured than he had ever experienced. In fact there was one Christmas that will stick in my memory forever, where he ate so much he lost all ability to talk and move.

Jamaicans really do know how to feed people especially as family celebrations.

My Christmas traditions may not be too different from many , but due to being a mixed race lass It will always have a different twist to it.”

Ramona Morton
Practice Educator/OSCE Facilitator

“I am a baptised Catholic. Just like all the Filipinos working in the Trust. Philippines is a very strong Catholic country.  We hold big celebrations on any religious/catholic occasions such as the Holy Week, Easter, and of course Christmas. We have Patron Saints in every town all over the country. We celebrate ‘Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul’ for example in the town where I grew up from, this is every 29of June. We also have many other feasts celebrating Mary and other Saints we consider Patron of that town.”

Christmas is a massive thing in the Philippines. We set up our Christmas Tree as early as September and we do not take it down in the New Year until we finish “Three Kings” celebration on the 6 of January.  We attend midnight mass in the church starting December 16 until Christmas Eve. In the church ground, we enjoy food vendors that sell food you can only have during this season (example, Puto Bumbong).  On Christmas eve, just after the midnight mass, the family will have ‘Noche Buena’, dinner together in the very early hours post-midnight, after coming back from the church. Christmas Eve is a very important family time for us.”

Christmas Day, is generally open for everyone. The family will have many visitors in their houses including their extended families. This can be a lot of food on the table shared together, from the morning until late at night. Christmas presents can be held Christmas Eve either with the family, or on Christmas Day itself. Christmas carols are also a common sight at this season, not on TV, but house to house, just like we do here for Halloween.  You will see and hear children, especially, singing Christmas songs in every house at the neighbourhood, and they either get treats of food/sweets, or money/ change.

New Year is also a big thing in the Philippines. We will again have a midnight mass in the church on New Year’s Eve, and will again share a meal with the family. Firecrackers and Fireworks are a common sight on the streets when midnight strikes beginning the first day of January.”

We are lucky as Trust to be able to shine a light on our staff and their traditions and be welcomed with open arms into their cultures.

We are sure this year will still see many traditions being upheld in various households embodying what Christmas means to you. However, please can we remind everyone to be vigilante this year. Be mindful of your friends and family and follow the government guidelines.

We at the Trust wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas.

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