When you’re stationed overseas, the holidays are an amazing time to immerse yourself in your new culture. After all, embracing unique experiences is one of the highlights of moving as a military family.
Our family spent the holidays in locations as diverse as Guam and Germany over the years, learning to equally appreciate a tropical day at the beach just as much as a winter’s stroll through a Christkindlmarkt.
We asked a few military families to share their own favorite overseas holiday memories with us. We’d love to hear yours, too!
Christmas in Germany
From Anna, who moved often as a military child:
“I fondly remember going to the German Christmas market with my family, drinking the kids’ Glühwein in a little boot-shaped mug, and eating warm pommes frites (french fries) in a wax paper cone topped with mayonnaise. We traveled to Paris during one Christmas break, and I’ll never forget seeing the lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower.”
Mae spent most of her childhood holidays overseas and shares this memory:
“There’s one Christmas I’ll never forget. Our family traveled to Nuremberg for its world-famous Christkindlmarkt. We walked on the historic streets and our senses were flooded with the smells of spiced Glühwein and fresh baked bread, sounds of laughter and chitchat, while feeling the cold crisp air and watching everyone enjoy themselves despite red noses and seeing their breath while talking. I don’t remember what we received as gifts that year, but I will always remember the togetherness and experiencing another culture’s celebration!”
Okinawan Style Holidays
Sisters Mahkyla and Isabella remember the uniqueness of the holiday season while their family was stationed in Okinawa for their dad’s Army service.
Mahkyla says of that time:
“In Okinawa, people don’t really decorate their homes, instead they go to public light displays at parks. Christmas is seen as more of a ‘couples holiday,’ since it’s not necessarily a traditional holiday there. And we eat fried chicken for Christmas!”
Her sister Isaballa agrees:
“I remember when we would walk around during Christmastime and see that fried chicken was a ‘Christmas thing.’ That was so fun!”
An Italian Thanksgiving
Military spouse Megan lives in Naples, Italy, and shares how her family found community during the holidays:
“During our first Thanksgiving here in Naples, we invited all of the unaccompanied sailors from my husband’s section at work for a Thanksgiving feast. I roasted a 25-pound turkey and we all had an amazing time. This year we’re planning an even bigger Thanksgiving, since we’ll invite all the unaccompanied sailors again, but we’ve also now found an amazing church family of Italians and Americans who we will share the holiday with.”
Where will you spend the holidays this year? If you’re overseas, we hope this inspires you to dive in and experience all your new culture has to offer.