My Christmas in the city
Two years ago, Yuan Ling arrived in Montréal. This young woman, originally from Northern China, is filled with contagious good cheer.
“We don’t really celebrate Christmas in my country,” she said with a big smile. “I discovered Christmas traditions through my travels in Europe and here in Montréal.”
Yuan is a client relationship manager in a furniture store, and loves walking. She never misses a chance to walk around the city, even in the wintertime.
“I love to visit Christmas markets, especially the one at Place des Arts,” she said. “I love to have some mulled wine while I’m there, and I love the special atmosphere this time of year, especially the smell of marshmallows roasting over the fire. It’s all unique to me!”
After spending December 25 with her feet in the ocean in New Zealand one year, this year, she’s bundled up in her coat to hear a Christmas concert at Montréal’s Notre-Dame Basilica this year.
When we think of the holidays, we often think of gift exchanges and family meals. How can someone experience the magic when their family is so far away?
“It’s hard, but fortunately, I have great colleagues who have invited me over for Christmas Eve. We’ll even exchange gifts!” she said excitedly.
A different kind of Christmas
For Anaïs Krawczykowski, Christmas means a new beginning. This 27-year-old of Belgian/Polish descent will spend Christmas in a different country for the seventh time! “I got to Montréal just two weeks ago,” she said.
Christmas has a special flavour for the former Slavic literature student.
“I left everything behind in Belgium for new adventures in Québec. I joined the person I love here. It’s also a new beginning professionally. I grew up believing everything is possible here because of stories of my uncle, who became an expatriate in the 1970s,” she said.
She’s all settled into her place in downtown Montréal, and enjoying the holiday atmosphere.
“For me, holidays mean tasting local and typical foods. I couldn’t resist the call of a smoked meat sandwich!” she said.
Anaïs also plans to visit the skating rink at Lac-aux-Castors. “I love winter sports, and ice skating is so popular here that it’s almost a rite of passage!” The refrigerated rink on the mountain offers a magical atmosphere, with its Christmas decorations.
Meat pie or tourtière?
Montréal native Julie Sauvageau will be celebrating time-honoured holiday traditions with her family. “We all go to my parents’ house to eat turkey and tourtière,” she said.
“Before dessert, we exchange our first round of gifts. My mom made this rule because I’m so impatient to open gifts!” she laughed. “Just before midnight, we walk over to Église Saint-Justin to attend mass.”
Like Yuan, Julie loves this time of year: “I spend lots of time in local markets during the holidays. I love the atmosphere and most of all, I love the creative craftsmanship!”
Even though winter chills our bodies, Christmas warms our hearts, and the magic always works!