Comparing Christmas Celebrations: Hearing From Exchange Students

With Christmas anticipation building, some foreign exchange students in Texoma are experiencing their first Christmas in the States.

Nilufar Hakimova, or Nellie, is from Tajikistan, a nation that borders China.  Its mountainous landscape is a far cry from what she sees in Burkburnett, Texas.  Because she's Muslim, she doesn't celebrate Christmas at home.  But the holy month of Ramadan provides a similar setting for friends and family.

"We go over to their house, they come to our house, and children, they come over and we give them candies or gums," she said.

The new year, though, is huge in Tajikistan, so Nellie is used to buying gifts for loved ones at this time of year.  Her host mom, Norma Prisock, has enjoyed comparing and contrasting her traditions with Nellie's.

"It's been a learning experience, very fascinating, and we really enjoyed showing her how we do things here," Prisock said.

Meanwhile, Artur Siqueira has been staying with the Beasom family a few blocks away.  He's from Brazil, where the Christmas celebration sounds a lot like ones here in the states.

"Christmas Eve, we have like a big dinner with family.  We exchange gifts that night, and we come back Christmas Day, the 25th, to have a lunch," he said.

But not everything's done the same here as in other countries.  For one thing, Brazil's in the dead of summer.

"We don't decorate that much in Brazil.  We just kind of have a tree and that's it," Artur said.

"Christmas, I'm so excited about Christmas.  I like these lights outside," Nellie said.

But overall, both students agree the spirit of the holiday season is the same.

"It's just different people, different places.  But we celebrate it the same way," Artur said.

Nellie says many important holidays in her country involve traditional clothing.  Artur says there's never snow in  Brazil; if they ever go on vacation for Christmas, it's usually to the beach.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6