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#Christmas #CristianRomero #EmersonRoyal #Tinja-RiikkaKorpela #KyahSimon

My First Spurs Christmas: New signings in 2021 on their festive traditions

Thu 23 December 2021, 20:15|Tottenham Hotspur

As first seen in the official matchday programme during Wednesday night's Carabao Cup win over West Ham, our popular feature at this time of year returns, as we speak to some of our new recruits in 2021 about their first Christmas at Spurs and what’s traditional in their home countries.

Emerson Royal

Brazil international, joined us from Barcelona in August, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“I’ll be here in London this year. It’s going to be new for me because I’ve never had to play football before at Christmas so it’s a little bit unusual, but it’s still going to be good. The most important thing is I’ve got my close family here with me and I’ll still be able to spend it with them, so we’ll enjoy the usual traditions on Christmas Day and probably cook a Chester – a larger form of chicken that’s commonly eaten in Brazil – to have for our meal on the day. It’s normally quite an intense time with the celebrations but this year it’s obviously going to be a bit different for me because I’m going to have to keep in mind that we have a really important match the next day, so I’m not going to be able to eat absolutely anything or go to bed late, but that’s also good for me to have that responsibility.”

What is traditional at Christmas in Brazil?
“Generally on the evening of 24 December we have a big dinner with lots of traditional food – the Chester with salad, rice, some cheese tart and other things – and then it’s all about giving presents.”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“I like rice and Feijoada, which is a traditional Brazilian dish a bit like stew, also the Chester, some salad and then to drink, a Fanta Uva, which is grape-flavoured Fanta that is very popular in Brazil.”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“My favourite present when I was a kid was a remote-controlled car. I loved that! Apart from that, every year at Christmas I always asked for a ball – that was the most important thing. My wish this year is to be able to spend Christmas with my whole family because there are certain people who are still over in Brazil, so if they’re able to visit without any issues around the pandemic, it would be great to spend the day with them and then win the match against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day.”

Tinja-Riikka Korpela

Finland international, joined us from Everton in July, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“I plan to be at home in Finland – I haven’t seen my family since July. My home town is called Oulu, it’s quite northerly, maybe four hours or so from Lapland. At the moment there’s snow there – hopefully it stays! In the southern part of Finland, in Helsinki for example, it isn’t always a white Christmas but in Oulu we usually have snow. We celebrate Christmas on 24 December. In the morning I usually go out cross-country skiing. It’s literally out of my door, five minutes’ walk and the track starts there. We also have a lot of ice-skating rinks all over the city. That’s something that I really enjoy doing, especially as I’ve lived outside Finland for 12 years now, so I want to do these typical things that I can’t do anywhere else. Later we go to the cemetery to light some candles to remember the people who have passed away, sometimes we go to church to sing some Christmas songs, then we open our presents and have Christmas dinner. On 25 December we usually go skiing or skating again and we eat well again. This year is a little bit different because my sister’s family is living in Canada and they’re not coming to Finland, so it’s a little bit less people this time.”

What is traditional at Christmas in Finland?
“It’s always on 24 December that the people celebrate. Some people go to Lapland and the northern parts of Finland so they can go skiing. It’s quite traditional to go to the cemetery in the morning on Christmas Eve – it looks really nice there with so many candles and it’s our way to remember our family members who aren’t here anymore. Traditional food at Christmas is ham but, more and more, turkey is coming in these days. Then you have potatoes, some traditional carrot casserole, gingerbread, prunes, some sweets, chocolates and a drink called Glögi.”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“I prefer turkey to ham, although in our family we have a bit of both, then I like the carrot casserole – it’s really tasty! I actually found some Glögi in IKEA here in England. Even though IKEA is Swedish, it’s obviously close enough that they had it in stock!”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“This year I just hope that everything goes well with my flights and, with the pandemic, that I’m still able to travel to Finland and see my family. When I was six or seven, my favourite present was probably a sledge. I was so gutted I couldn’t go out and use it on Christmas Eve because it was too late in the day – my parents told me I needed to wait until Christmas morning!”

Cristian Romero

Argentina international, joined us from Atalanta in August, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“I normally just celebrate with my family and this year we will be here in London, of course. It’s an important time of year that we celebrate together on the night of 24 December. It’s definitely going to be very different to what I have known before, especially with my newborn son. It’ll be a special first one with him!”

What is traditional at Christmas in Argentina?
“Typically, we eat dinner together on the evening of 24 December and then we wait until midnight for a toast. We then exchange gifts. Here in England, it’s a winter climate but in Argentina it’s usually warmer.”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“Traditionally, a roast dinner is definitely my favourite. I don’t mind which kind of meat it’s based around, but in more recent years I like vitel tone, which is a traditional Christmas dish in Argentina.”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“Honestly, I don’t remember much about specific gifts I received. My family being together – that is my favourite gift! My wish at Christmas now? It definitely wasn’t the best last two months of an otherwise incredible year for me, getting injured in November, so I hope to return to fitness quickly. But really the best thing that 2021 has given me is my son. In 2022, we’re hoping to take Spurs to the best competition in the world – the Champions League.”

Maéva Clemaron

France international, joined us from Everton in July, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“My plan is to be with my family in France, to have a traditional meal with them and to give presents to everyone. It will all be around Lyon – I have one day with my father’s side of the family on 25 December and one on 26 December with my mother’s side. Previously, we celebrated Christmas on the evening of 24 December but now my grandpa prefers driving during the day.”

What is traditional at Christmas in France?
“Some families celebrate on the evening of 24 December, others on 25 December. For the meal, we have many options – you can’t have every option because it’s too much, so you need to choose! Most of the time we have some prawns, oysters, foie gras, some snails with garlic sauce – it’s a bit weird but it’s really good! Then you have some potatoes with meat, then you’re full! For dessert, there’s the traditional Bûche de Noël, which is like a Yule Log.”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“My favourite is prawns, salmon and foie gras. I’m not too fussed about the potatoes and meat but I like snails, then a big dessert like Bûche de Noël.”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“I wish to give many presents because I like this – I prefer to give presents to others. Maybe if I had to choose, I would have something like a massage! When I was a child, it was great to receive a football or football equipment, but something that I really wanted and I was happy to receive was an electric scooter.”

Pierluigi Gollini

Italy international, joined us on loan from Atalanta in July, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“Normally I spend most of the day with my family and then in the evening, I usually catch up with my friends because it’s my best friend’s birthday on Christmas Day, so we always go and celebrate that. For me, it's a little bit strange to train and play in the Christmas period because, in Italy, the celebration is a cultural thing – everybody stops, and it's just time you spend with your family. Here, the people are looking forward to Christmas for the Boxing Day match and so it's a different culture, but it’s good to experience this.”

What is traditional at Christmas in Italy?
“Normally we open presents early in the morning and then we have a big lunch all together as a family. Every city has its own typical food – I eat two or three courses that are really typical of where I’m from. The food is a marathon! You start at 12 or 12.30pm and you stand up from the table at 6.30 in the evening!”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“The usual starter where I am from will be salami, ham, mozzarella and then we have tortellini – it’s like a small ravioli with meat included. Tortellini is very typical in my town. We eat that with lasagne. These are the main two types of pasta we have, then we have mashed potatoes, roast beef and a couple of pork-based things. Normally you have red wine and then there is a dessert marathon with the mascarpone tiramisu and panettone – very typical for Christmas – with cream. We finish that with a coffee. I want to make my parents try custard here because in Italy we don’t have it – we have a different type of cream. I think they will like it!”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“One time I wanted a PlayStation but, for my parents, it was too expensive. After some years, they got me a PlayStation 2, but it was used – it was from a friend of ours who just didn’t want it anymore, so he gave it to us and I got it as a Christmas present. They told me about this just a few years ago – I didn’t know at the time. I remember when they gave it to me, I went crazy! Also, when I was young, the thing I always asked for was goalkeeper gloves or a football jersey. I didn’t have many, but my favourites were always the national team jerseys. I had two – one was an original blue one from the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and then I had one from Buffon, the red one. I had one pair of gloves and I have a picture of when I was dressed up for Christmas… I think I was four or five years old, dressed up very elegantly, smart and I had this pair of red goalkeeper gloves on with Buffon written across the straps! Now I am just happy to be with my family.”

Kyah Simon

Australia international, joined us from PSV in August, 2021

Describe Christmas Day for you…
“I’m usually at my mum’s house which is on the Central Coast in New South Wales, Australia. It’s a 24-hour trip – sometimes it’s a 14-hour first leg, then seven hours for the second but the Christmas flight that I hope to get on is a 16-hour first leg and then Darwin to Sydney, which is around the five-hour mark. The family will wake up all together, me and my siblings, plus I have a nephew, so we kind of revolve the unwrapping of the presents around him. We usually do Secret Santa between the family which goes pretty well, then we’ll probably just chill, maybe go to the beach for a swim, get some sun in, then have Christmas dinner together with my dad and his partner and my mum and her partner – that’ll be out near the beach, which is just down the road from where my mum lives. Last year when I was at PSV was the first time I wasn’t able to go home because of COVID-19 and I actually spent it in the Maldives.”

What is traditional at Christmas in Australia?
“You’re in the thick of summer over there, so there’s no sign of a white Christmas! You’re pretty much in shorts and a t-shirt for the whole time, which is nice. Traditionally everyone opens presents in the morning, maybe get some Australian coffee in, play some backyard games, maybe cricket down at the beach, then head out for a swim or do some tanning. We usually have a BBQ brunch every Christmas morning, then do dinner all together. Sometimes it’s seafood-based – we always have prawns, some white fish – then maybe a roast dinner with lamb, beef or even pork sometimes. We’re spoiled for choice!”

What is your favourite festive meal?
“I go for the roast. I’ll have a couple of prawns on the side, but I love a good roast with pork and apple sauce, or sometimes the lamb.”

What was your most memorable gift as a child and what do you wish for at Christmas now?
“For me, it’s mainly just to spend the day with family. I would have to say my most memorable present ever was a PeeWee 50, a little motorbike I received when I was about 10 years old. I still remember that Christmas.”

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