For those that have made the decision to live abroad, the most difficult time of the year is almost certainly unanimously agreed to be Christmas. For me, and I know for many others, Taiwan certainly lacks that warm, cosy, sit by the fire overeating with your family kind of vibe. There’s no doubt about it: Christmas time is family time, and the chances are that if you find yourself in Taiwan for Christmas, you’re a couple of thousand miles away from your nearest and dearest.
Fortunately, what you’ll quickly come to realise is that you’ve most likely become acquainted with people that are sharing that same boat. The streets might not be twinkling with Christmas lights but there are certainly a number of people that are wishing it were and together there’s no reason you can’t have yourself a merry little Christmas here in Taiwan.
My First Christmas in Taiwan
Last Christmas, I had only been in Taiwan for about five weeks, which meant that my friendship group was abysmally small and I wasn’t especially excited about the prospect of spending Christmas alone. Fortunately, that minimal friendship group shared similar feelings and we decided to head down to Kenting, in the south of Taiwan, for a Christmas on the beach – an exotic suggestion to anyone from the UK who usually spends her Christmas wishing that the rain would turn to snow. We checked into a hostel, headed to the beach and spent Christmas Eve in the Pacific. Sure, it didn’t feel like Christmas at that point, but it certainly felt good.
Upon heading back to the hostel that evening, one guy decided that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least an attempt at a proper Christmas dinner and after some sweet talking with the hostel owners, agreed to play live music for the night on the condition that they roast us a bird, which they of course did, and a lot more as well, so the overeating was definitely accounted for. Picture this, our Christmas Eve was spent with a dinner of roast chicken and dumplings, some homemade eggnog that one girl had managed to track down in Taichung, and some guitar until the early hours of the morning, with some local Taiwanese people that happily tried to teach us some of their local music – unsuccessfully.
I won’t say that it was the most traditional Christmas in the world, but it was certainly a one that I won’t forget and certainly full of all the happiness and cheer that should accompany any Christmas.
Later on, I tuned into my family’s Christmas dinner via Skype. They sat me at the end of the table right in front of the roast potatoes, listening to their conversation whilst playing charades with my brother across the table. So I still got to listen to all the bad cracker jokes but I didn’t have to listen to my Grandpa snoring on the sofa later in the evening – a very successful Christmas.
If you do happen to find yourself in Taiwan this Christmas, then there’s simply no reason why it shouldn’t be as merry as it always is. Decorate your house; absolutely insist that your kids sing Christmas carols every lesson; binge watch Christmas movies and seek out the people that are searching for Christmas too. They’ll be everywhere.
About the Author
Ella is an English teacher in Taiwan and has been living and teaching in Asia for the last two years. She has loved seeing kids enjoy learning English. In her spare time, Ella has been learning Chinese, climbing mountains and finding hidden waterfalls in Taiwan’s beautiful countryside. You can check out her adventures on her Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ella.watson93/ or read about them on her blog www.byebyeblighty.wordpress.com.