The Genteel
February 25, 2021


It's that time of year again when the mulled wine is brewing on the stove, the house is filled with the heady smell of pine needles and one family member or another is sporting a colourful Christmas hat. As The Genteel team is both global and diverse, we thought we would ask our contributors how they will be celebrating this seasonal holiday - along with if any unusual family traditions will be upheld.

Mona Chammas: Editor-in-Chief

There's always a palpable buzz in Beirut around the holidays - unmistakably emanating from the plethora of cars seen bumper to bumper as the massive Lebanese diaspora returns to the city to spend Christmas with family.

I am one of them. As are my siblings, each coming from London and Dubai to enjoy, among many events, a Christmas eve spread of gammon and salad to start, roast lamb and Thai inspired shrimp stew as main dishes and a dependable Buche de Noel for dessert.

Contrary to popular demand, Christmas eve dinner is not my favourite of the festive feasts at home. I most look forward to my mother's famous "Ladies who Brunch" gathering. Always a few days after Christmas, twenty and some ladies from my extended family come over for coffee, tea and a spread of Franco-Lebanese delicacies: Man'ousheh, Kanafeh, Viennoiseries, and artisanal baguettes with local cheeses and jams. All accompanied by convivial conversation interspersed between Arabic, French and English. 

Grace Carter: Associate Editor

It has become somewhat of a tradition to visit Bury St. Edmunds Cathedral in England during the lead-up to Christmas for a beautiful candle-lit carol service, sung with the assistance of a harmonious all-boy choir. Huddled together, around 700 people sing songs such as Good King Wenceslas, Ding Dong Merrily on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night.

As for the day itself, I can only describe it as the culmination of months of careful planning. Endless hours will have been spent in the lead-up to Christmas coordinating jobs lists (with everyone assigned their own coloured tasks), creating table seating plans (girl-boy-girl-boy, in case you were wondering) and decorating the gold-and-red bauble covered pine tree with the same careful and expert precision expected of a Harrods store assistant.

A meticulously planned affair, our Christmas day is filled with homemade food; tomato and basil bruschetta, sausage rolls and smoked mackerel pate are all coming before dinner; mains will be a huge stuffed turkey and plate full of vegetables, while dessert is a trio of tiny chocolate delights cooked by my sister. The afternoon will be spent opening presents with all the family. My three-year-old niece will be spending the day with us, so it will be of upmost importance that we leave out grated carrot on the doorstep for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and a mince pie for Santa Claus. 



Lara Wiedeking: Contributor

Our most important Christmas tradition is to spend the day together as a family. So for the 24th time, we are going to have three days full of food, gifts and board games at my home town in Westphalia. My mother always makes a delicious soup for Christmas Eve and my four-year-old is the most excited one of all of us. Luckily my mother was able to convince her that Santa doesn't bring live animals - including the pony she has asked for. Let's see how long until we have to come up with a new explanation.

Katie Aske: Sub Editor

I will be visiting my boyfriend's family in Salisbury for Christmas this year for the first time! I'll be breaking the tradition of cooking dinner for everyone.

Martina Palmitessa: Editorial Assistant

I will be celebrating with my closest family back home in Sweden. On the 24th, we will all be watching the classic Walt Disney Christmas Show at three o'clock (together with almost every other Swede in the country).



Cristina Fei: Contributor

I'll be spending my Christmas in my hometown in Naples (Southern Italy) with my family and my parents-in-law from Australia. Our Santa usually comes at midnight on the 24th. This is when we unwrap our Christmas presents.

As tradition on Christmas Eve, we have a big family dinner based on traditional Neapolitan food. Spaghetti with clams and the fish soup are an absolute must. According to the Neapolitan tradition, the fish soup usually takes half a day to be made with different kind of fishes boiling in a tomato sauce. On the 24th, we only eat fish; while on the 25th, we usually have chicken soup with handmade pasta.

Italians love eating, anytime and everywhere. What's never missing on our tables at Christmas is the typical Neapolitan sweet: Struffoli. They are little pastry balls, fried in cinnamon boiling oil and covered in honey and candied fruit. In a family, the recipe is passed down from generation to generation. It's not easy to make Struffoli's as they don't have to be too hard or too soft, not too sweet or too puffed. They need to have the right solidity; you grab it with your fingers and dig it with honey. No Struffoli, no Christmas!

Alexandra Sarabia: Social Media Assistant

I will be celebrating with my family from my mother's side in New Jersey. We're probably just going to eat a lot of Filipino food, maybe do karaoke at some point (it's a filipino thing to do!), and just have good conversation. 

Emma McGinn: Editorial Assistant

We had a really bad ice storm in Michigan this past weekend and a lot of people lost power so my mom's been staying with me since I still have power, and on Christmas we will be going to my grandmother's for dinner with her side of the family.


Elizabeth Neep: Contributor


This year, I will be heading home to my parent's house in Derbyshire, England, to spend Christmas with my mum, dad, older brother and younger sister. We will still hang our stockings by the fireplace, even though my siblings and I are all over 20. I guess you can never be too old.


Andrew Adebowale: Contributor

Christmas Eve is the big one... Swedish Style! Presents will be exchanged between myself, Helen, Ebbe and Pele the dog, before getting ready to open our doors here at Harlesden Towers, London (between one to whenever) for a house party for 14 adults and 10 kids (it wasn't my idea, but hey I will just sit in the corner with a bottle of red and some Gravad Lax)... Christmas day will see my brother and his family come round for the traditional Christmas dinner. Glad Jul!

Briana Palma: Contributor

I'm home in the Boston area celebrating Christmas with family. The big tradition for me is attending the Boston Pops holiday show at Symphony Hall. I've been going with my mom since I was a kid and Christmas just wouldn't be complete without it. It's a great way to get in the spirit. 

Looking for ways to treat yourself in the post-Christmas sales? The Genteel's Editor-in-Chief, Mona Chammas, and Associate Editor, Grace Carter, teamed up with Inverted Edge to curate their favourite pieces from the online store's covetable collection of clothes and accessories. Read more.



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