An International Christmas Story

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Polish version here:

Far away is the time were Christmas meant much more than crowded shopping centers, expensive gifts that will be collecting dust anytime soon, and advertisements inciting you to spend the money you don’t have on things you don’t need. When trying to bring back the Christmas spirit, based on a beautiful Polish tradition of having a spare dish during the Christmas supper, Poznan Hub created #PoznajmySię na Święta. The campaign aimed to revive such a beautiful tradition and bring internationals and Poles together.

Magdalena Duwel knows the feeling of living abroad  from the time she and her family were residing in the USA. She instantly decided to join the campaign, inviting a foreigner to spend the Wigilia at their home. “The moment I saw it the video, I knew I wanted to take part”, said Magdalena, adding “When we were living in the USA, we felt that we were missing something when everyone was reunited with their families during Thanksgiving”. After that, in the next years during Holidays, they always tried to be surrounded by smiling and friendly faces. Knowing that she and her family would be experiencing an amazing time and at the same time giving someone else the chance to have a memorable night, she decided to invite not only one, but two internationals to spend the Christmas Eve with them.

The lucky internationals, Dahn, from Vietnam, and Mariangela from Italy, spent Christmas Eve with the Polish-Dutch family (Magdalena’s husband comes from the Netherlands). Dahn, who now prefers to be called Jan (the Polish name he adopted), was all smiles when remembering that amazing experience. “In Vietnam we don’t celebrate Christmas, so this was a unique experience for me”.  Jan was surprised in many ways that evening. “I’ve never seen so much food in front of me. They prepared 12 dishes for dinner, one more delicious than the other”.

Polish Christmas is full of traditions, and Magdalena’s family seemed to have followed all of them. “They were such great people. The mom, Magdalena, was making us feel at home. She was very interested in knowing about our culture and experiences, and was also very happy to tell us a lot about Poland and the Polish Christmas”.

Before dinner, they shared the so-called waffle, and that was for Jan  the highlight of the evening: “It was something unique. Before starting to eat, we all shared a piece of the waffle and said a few things about what makes us happy and so on… It was a beautiful moment”.

After trying the twelve different dishes, the family sat on the sofas and watched “Kevin Home Alone”, of course. “It is something we have to do at the Christmas Eve”, said Magdalena. The evening was coming to an end, but not before the gifts exchange. Jan brought some wine and chocolate for his hosts, and the family also gave nice presents to their guests. However, the biggest gift they gave them was this opportunity to witness the Polish Christmas in first hand, surrounded by people that want to make you feel at home and happy . Magdalena and Jan exchanged contacts, and are already in touch. “Who knows, maybe we can invite him for spending Easter with us as well. I’m sure my kids would love to have him around once more”, said Magdalena.

To us at Poznan Hub, such stories encourage us to keep working towards a more international and friendly Poznan. It was totally worth working on #PoznajmySię na Święta, but it was only possible thanks to the support of the local community Poznan, internationals and different institutions that believed in a more integrated and welcoming city. Keep tuned to our projects this 2017!