Gauss-Advent Calendar: Santa Gauss
by Hussain Nauman
Growing up in Pakistan, I have never had any Christmas celebrations or any experience about the holiday. I had my first proper Christmas at Gauss House at their traditional yearly Christmas event appropriately named ‘Santa Gauss’. In this article I want to share my experience and observations at my first Christmas event ever.
My first observation was that it is all about the vibe. You can feel it around you when you enter the holiday season. From the lighting around the city to the decorations, to the Christmas markets and of course the Christmas trees. Even in the supermarkets you can see Christmas themed chocolates and drinks and gifts. Everyone is usually in a great mood and you just feel it all around you. The same was the case at Gauss House. There were lots of decorations, most of which they made at the Christmas workshop the week before; Christmas music in order to really get into the Christmas spirit and get you going; happy cheerful people all around and of course a nicely decorated Christmas tree in the corner. It all seemed really amazing to me and I was definitely feeling the whole vibe of the holiday.
Moreover, I realized that the religion aspect of Christmas is optional. I always thought of it as a Christian holiday and celebrated only by Christians. However, I was surprised to learn that religion is rarely mentioned throughout the holiday. Some of my non-religious German and other friends celebrated Christmas with even more enthusiasm than others. It was more focused on getting together with family and friends, enjoying time with each other and exchanging gifts, but not on religion. So basically everyone could be part of the celebration no matter what their religious background was. This is something I really appreciated and I was happy to be a part of as well.
The evening started off with snacks and drinks, some of them Christmas themed. The atmosphere was great with a lot of buzz and excitement. There was Christmas music in the background and later some board games as well. One of the highlights of the evening was a spontaneous Santa appearance, which none of us expected. He handed out goodie bags to everyone filled with chocolates and other gifts. I also found out that it didn’t matter how old you are, it’s always exciting to see someone dressed as Santa. Which was quite obvious considering that everyone wanted a picture with him afterwards. Later we played a modified version of Secret Santa. Anyone who wanted to participate brought a wrapped present with them which were distributed randomly among the participants. Then we sat in a circle and some music was played and we had to pass around a toy until the music stopped. Whoever had the toy when the music stopped could exchange the present they had with anyone they wanted. This went on for a while so the presents were quite well mixed up and exchanged lots of hands. Then we all opened the present we were left with at the end. It was quite fun to find out what all the presents were and if you made the right gamble by exchanging or not.
At the end I want to say that I really loved the whole experience and I had a great time. I highly applaud the whole Gauss House team for arranging everything and organizing such an astounding event for everyone. It made Christmas much more memorable and fun especially for international students who couldn’t be with their families like they usually are. I would highly recommend anyone who finds themselves in Braunschweig during Christmas to join Santa Gauss. It’s truly the best way to experience an international Christmas.
I also learned some great traditions which I will take back with me to Pakistan along with amazing memories. Maybe I will try to get my family and friends to do a Secret Santa (naming is still in progress) on Eid.