When I first came to Moldova, I was very careful with what I said and I didn’t want to make any assumption or say things that could offend anyone. Having learned that the two Christmases, the Catholic and the Orthodox, were a source of political tension since they had become symbols of the West and the East, the New and the Old. So in order to not step on anyone’s toes, when the topic of Christmas came up, I used to carefully ask which Christmas the person I had the conversation with celebrated. In reply, I normally got a laugh, followed by a “Oh, we celebrate both!” And yes, why chose?
This year, I didn’t have to chose either. Instead, I celebrated both the Swedish and the American Christmas. In Sweden, most celebrate Christmas Eve, and though there are regional differences, the dinner normally consists of a smorgasbord with pickled herring, salmon, sausages, meatballs, potato, and pork. I was fortunate enough to be invited to Monika and Willie together with A for Christmas eve, and we ate and ate, and then ate some more. Monika had really outdone herself (she had even made a Swedish Princess Cake and gotten a very Swedish box of chocolate), and though I was far away from home, it felt like a real Swedish Christmas!!
On Christmas Day, I was invited over to Patrick’s family, and had another lovely dinner with lamb, pork, chicken, mashed and sweet potatoes, and green beans. Patrick had also invited two other acquaintances of ours that were here over Christmas, and his sister had invited her best friend with her visiting mother, and I thought it very nice that his family opened up their home to non-family members. In Sweden, it is such a family day. I tried to understand what was the real American Christmas tradition, but as oppose to Thanksgiving, it seems to be more diverse and probably more rooted in different family and country traditions. So there is no typical Christmas dinner. But it was a lovely way to spend Christmas Day!