It’s fun living abroad, until you’re facing yet another expat Christmas alone. A lot of expats go home for Christmas, but many can’t or don’t. Others come from cultures that either don’t celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th or don’t celebrate at all. So for many expats, one of the most looked forward to times of the year can feel isolating and depressing.
While Danes celebrate Christmas on the 24th, I’m used to the main festivities taking place on the 25th starting early in the morning. Basically facing another expat Christmas alone, I asked in a local Facebook group if any other expats were going to be alone in Aarhus for Christmas. I quickly found a small group of people who were looking for something to do, and someone was even offering to host a Christmas dinner at their apartment! City living being what it is, the apartment could only fit eleven at a push, so it wasn’t long before I was looking for a bigger space.
One thing led to another and a couple of weeks later I was having a coffee at Hallo Hostel and talking to the owners about the possibility of using their café space for our gathering. They thought it was a wonderful idea and didn’t take any convincing. They’ve been extremely welcoming and this is why the hostel has become a social hub for the Aarhus international community. It’s a cool place to be and their café serves very reasonably priced coffee, tea, soft drinks, and beer, which is hard to find in Denmark, let alone in Aarhus.
A Hyggelig Christmas Eve Potluck Dinner
So, on December 24th, a group of internationals living in Aarhus, who otherwise would’ve been spending another expat Christmas alone, gathered at Hallo Hostel for our first annual (I hope) Christmas Eve potluck. We were a mix of people who celebrate Christmas and some who just wanted company. We represented many countries… Croatia, India, Italy, Macedonia, Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, and maybe one or two others that I’m forgetting.
Everyone brought a dish to share… pierogi, a tapas plate, pasta al forno, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, paella, roasted vegetables, palak paneer, various cakes and other sweets, lots of wine, and things I’ve forgotten to mention :)
There was never a lull in conversation and most of us continued on at an Irish Pub after we’d left Hallo. In wanting to do something different this year, I’d accidentally organized a hyggelig Christmas Eve dinner for people who would’ve otherwise been spending another expat Christmas alone and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out…
A Shout-Out to Hallo Hostel
I didn’t strike a deal with Hallo where they’d let me hold this event there in exchange for a mention on my blog. I just think that Hallo Hostel is a cool place and I like to stay at cool places when I travel, so I’m telling you about a cool place to stay in Aarhus :)
I won’t give you the rundown on their rooms, etc., you can find that on their website. But I will tell you that Hallo Hostel has one of the best locations in the city (it’s like a 3 minute walk from my apartment) and it’s smack bang in the middle of everything.
It’s laid back and fun, which is the vibe I think of when I think of a hostel, but without any of the sketchy restrooms and showers that you might also think of when you think of a hostel. It’s super clean and a great place to be.
I love these handwritten signs :)
Being a hub for the Aarhus international community, we have several informal get-togethers at Hallo Hostel most weeks. There’s a Sunday coffee drop-in event and there’s recently been a healthy living meet-up on Saturdays. There have also been game nights and movie nights. This means that hostel guests have a good chance of running into locals who can tell them the best places to eat, drink, shop, or hang out :)
See you in 2018!
If you celebrate, I hope that your Christmas was as hyggelig as mine. Here’s to trying new things and making new friends! It’s going to be quiet around here for the next few weeks, but check back in mid-January for many interesting happenings :)
Censie Sawyer says
Looks like your holiday was great even if it was different than normal. Our holiday weekend was good but different for us too. Due to some family drama, we had to change our normal Christmas Eve plans. It was different but good. Happy holidays!
Sue Reddel says
What a wonderful idea to get a group of expats together to celebrate Christmas. I’m a fan of inviting anyone who doesn’t have somewhere to go on the holidays to our house. I was fortunate enough to have someone invite me into their home when I didn’t have anywhere to go years ago. It’s my way of returning the favor.
I’m glad you still had a wonderful Christmas! I too think it was a great idea to invite those friends who were available to help you celebrate Christmas. I remember when I was away from my family one year for Christmas and my husbands friends invited us, wow we had a blast and I can still see all the food and people at their home! They made us feel special and me very happy even though I missed my loved ones. Happy Holidays!!
Hi Sage! I’ve been lurking around your blog for a while and I love it :)
I’m a Dane, born and raised, and I live in Aarhus too. I really appreciate your “outsider” point of view on Denmark and Aarhus, I find that it helps me understand my home country better, so thank you for sharing your experiences and being so honest in your writing.
And your expat Christmas party sounds so cool! What a wonderful idea to gather around a potluck and enjoy other expats’ company :)
Happy New Year!
That’s a fun idea! I’m sure the other ex-pats appreciated it, as well. I’ve actually never stayed at a hostel but hope to at some point, when I return to Europe for travels. (the last time I was there was Paris, in 2012, because my college roommate had an internship there, so I was able to crash at her place)
April Decheine says
Sounds like and looks like you had an interesting holiday! Our goal is to live abroad, we moved from MN about three years ago. We are making our way South. We went to Marco Island, Hollywood, Fl and are now in West Palm Beach, FL looking to get down to Key West! Our Christmas this year we went snorkeling, it was so much fun!
What a wonderful idea!
Sage, I’m glad you’re hanging in & coming up with ideas of ways to cope.
I like your all comers party idea & will admit I am someone who celebrates adamantly on the 24th, tho’ I try to be easy-going and actually celebrate the whole month thru… For my hubby, it is the 25th. We somehow find ways to compromise — tho’ still don’t have it entirely worked out after all these years!
I’ll keep checking back from time to time to see how you’re doing in Denmark or at least I hope to — despite the fact I feel I’ve turned into an online troll every other place I drop into.
Be happy, be healthy & do keep on going, you!