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GuideMeMalta's Great Christmas Countdown with... Nena Kay
Another view of the Christmas festivities.

Kristina Cassar Dowling

In the sixth of our festive season interviews, we welcome Nena Kay! The Instagram superstar with 121k followers and counting has called Malta home for a while, and her Serbian roots bring a new flavour to the table, with exciting traditions and alternative ways of looking at the holiday.

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For Nena, Christmas is...

"...mainly about family and friends spending time together, but it is also an opportunity to really dress up, eat beautiful food and enjoy the festivities. I love the lights and candles, the decorations and the feeling of anticipation – really looking forward to the celebrations.” So eloquently put, this girl know what she wants and won’t settle for less!

And she'll be following Serbian traditions

Much like the Maltese Christmas, Serbian Christmas is spent with family and involves a lot of food, “The main meal is the highlight and we serve a special pie, beans, nuts, fruits and red wine. We also have a česnica – which is a loaf of bread with a coin baked into it. The bread is passed around the table for each person to take a piece; the person who gets the money will have a year of wealth, luck and happiness.” This sharing process, however, doesn't take place on 25th December as we would expect, the Orthodox Calendar draws this holiday into the new year - 7th January in fact.

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Other traditions take place on this day such as the “tradition of bringing a log or a branch into the house on Christmas Eve: like the Yule Log in western Europe but ours is called Badnjak.” This activity requires some leg work that we locals might not be so interested in trying out, as she explains, “the men are supposed to go to the woods and cut this to bring it home to put on the fire. It is to bring luck and happiness to the house for the next year.” Locally, our first excuse would be that we don’t have a forest in our backyard like they do in Serbia, but the sad truth is that their tradition might be fading due to deforestation, “nowadays, we don’t have so many woods or even fireplaces sadly, but you can buy a pretty version of it in the Christmas markets or from churches.”

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What's her favourite part of the day?

Since she’s lived in Malta, Nena has spent Christmas Day with her Maltese friends, where preparation for the big event is her  favourite part. This bittersweet day, no matter how magical, still brings back memories of home: “it is also a bit sad as it’s the time when I know how much I do miss my family.” Past presents such as her husband’s surprise flights to Spain masked the homesickness ever so slightly though!

How about New Years? Any NYE plans and resolutions?

New Year’s Eve is never a big event for Nena, “I’m not a big fan of crowded places… I don’t usually make plans so, we go with the flow.” Her relaxed mentality flows onto her conscious choices for 2019 too. “I am already trying hard to reduce my ‘carbon footprint’ and I certainly intend to use less plastic and to recycle more in 2019.” That and learn Spanish, so she can extend her language skills to more than ordering a paella when in Spain.

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And her plans for 2019? “Hah!” she chuckles, “world domination!” Turning to a more serious note, she comments, “I have just launched my website, so I am looking to build on that and reach more people. I am very committed to wellness as a concept. My job is not just about making people look good but also how to feel good about themselves. I would be very happy to achieve that.”


Kristina Cassar Dowling
Written by
Kristina Cassar Dowling
A local writer in love with the Maltese islands, Kristina is a hunter for all things cultural both in Malta and outside its shores. A curious foodie, music fanatic, art lover and keen traveller with an open mind and a passion for writing.

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