※ This article discusses the 24th of December 2016.
In Austria, Christmas Eve (the 24th of December 2016) is the day, when family gathers together, they join in some activity together and finally exchange and open gifts. Our family met during the day, ate in the afternoon/evening and discussed issues. At night, we went upstairs to the christmas tree and opened the gifts found under the tree. Singing or playing instrument might be part of the ceremony in front of the christmas tree. In the morning or the days afterwards, grandparents are visited and cookies are an integral part in order to have some snacks while chatting. Though most of our family members are without religious denomination, we celebrate the same tradition most Austrian families do.
The first thing, I learned in Japan, is that in the international Christian community mostly opens Christmas presents on 25th. So one Christian was confused when I offered him to study verbs with me on 25th.
In most parts of Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Switzerland, presents are traditionally exchanged on the evening of 24 December. Children are commonly told that presents were brought either by the Christkind (German for Christ child), or by the Weihnachtsmann. Both leave the gifts, but are in most families not seen doing so. In Germany, the gifts are also brought on 6 December by "the Nikolaus" with his helper Knecht Ruprecht.
We did not have any special plans for Christmas. On the one hand, we attended the christmas party at Kokui residence and on the other hand, being in Japan as an atheist means I am more interested in understanding Shinto culture than Austrian traditions. Martina talked to Shoko about our missing plans and Shoko spontaneously asked us on Tuesday before to come to the restaurant, she is working part-time at.
The restaurant is located close to Rokko-michi station. So in some way close to university, but much closer to the sea. The name is 翔龍 (しょうりゅう, shoryuu) and focuses on Chinese dishes. Shoko was serving us in German and her boss was cooking for us. I got some spicy, thick soup with thin noodles. Martina got vegetables on top of a pile of thin noodles. We were told both dishes are Chinese and also our dessert, almond jelly in a honey sauce, follows Chinese traditions.
Afterwards we got home again. The gallery shows some photos of a bakery on our way home. But we didn’t buy anything. Dewin played Shogi with me at the residence. So for me, it was the first time of my life. By the way, American Reese’s (brand name for peanut butter cups) are very good.
It was a nice evening and if the servant speaks German or English, it is so much easier to find a vegetable dish. My dish was very saturating. Nice!