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Christmas is all around (Happy New Year from Manchester!)

By Billy Nathan Setiawan

Christmas is All Around. The song of Billy Mack (a rock star inLove Actually) is whining from one of the stores as I am wandering around the city centre of Manchester. Stores are decorated with Christmas ornaments – Christmas trees standing elegantly, wreaths hanging at the door. Mistletoes, Christmas stocking and Christmas lights make each building look fabulous. A man dressing up as a Father Christmas is trying to entertain some kids. Street musicians, with saxophones, guitars or violins, are playing and singing Christmas carols. I can really feel the vibes!

Since I have three essays due early January, I decided to stay in Manchester for Christmas and travel after I have submitted my essays. It isn’t a bad choice. There are plenty of things to do in Manchester during Christmas. Here I would like to share some of the main activities.


1. The Christmas market
Originally from Germany, the Christmas market in Manchester is held from November 14th to December 21st this year. More than 300 stalls in several locations in the heart of Manchester offer different kinds of stuff – from mouth-watering European delicacies to handcrafted souvenirs and jewelry. I have visited the market many times this year and would always like to come back. Who can resist the temptation of the traditional German bratwurst (sausage), German strudel (dessert/layered pastry with apple or other sweet filling) or Hungarian goulash (a soup or stew of meat and vegetables)? And my favorite is: the famous Germangluhwein (mulled wine: hot red wine with spices or raisins)!!

 Manchester Christmas market 2014

Manchester Christmas market 2014

2. The boxing day

On December 26th, a day after Christmas is celebrated, people open their Christmas presents/boxes. That is why it is called ‘boxing day’ – nothing to do with boxing as a type of sport :D. The tradition has now expanded as stores/shopping malls offer big discounts – up to 70%! Similar to ‘Black Friday’ in America, people go shopping on boxing day. You can get nice t-shirts or pants from Next or Mark & Spencer for less than 10 quid! 

Long queue was spottedoutsideArndale Shopping Centre (photo credit: Manchester Evening News)
Long queue was spotted outsideArndale Shopping Centre (photo credit: Manchester Evening News)

3. Christmas dinner


Another way to celebrate Christmas in UK is to have Christmas dinner with friends and family. Pubs or restaurants present special Christmas menu – classic prawn cocktails, traditional turkey/beef with Yorkshire pudding and of course, the Christmas pudding and mince pies. Reservation is strongly recommended since people enthusiastically celebrate this festive with friends and family. I did the Christmas dinner with my classmates and our professor. In this occasion we also exchanged gifts. Everyone was happy!

Christmas dinner with mates: can you spot me?
Christmas dinner with mates: can you spot me?

More importantly, people dedicatethe Christmas period for their family and beloved ones. ‘Mudik’ is also a common tradition during Christmas here. As most of my friends do, people go back to their hometown to celebrate Christmas. On the Christmas day (December 25th), streets are empty because most people are at home with their family. Buses stop running (only a few operates in certain times). It is very quiet outside, but at home people joyfully celebrate the warmth and the love of Christmas with their family and beloved ones. To finish this piece of writing, I wish you all have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Cheers!

New Year’s Eve firework at Piccadilly Garden, Manchester
New Year’s Eve firework at Piccadilly Garden, Manchester

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