Abu Dhabi: Christmas is here! That is the sentiment shared by Christian expatriates, young and old, as they look forward to celebrating this special season and participate in its wonderful traditions.

Another thing that expatriates look forward to once December comes around is the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony that many hotels around the city host as part of their festive events for the month.

Some hotels, such as the The Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi and the Sheraton have already ushered in the season with their ceremonies on December 3 and 7 respectively.

Their guests not only witnessed the Christmas tree lighting but the little ones were also given a chance to interact with Santa Claus while the choir, made up of various staff members, entertained everyone with a selection of traditional Christmas songs.

Candy apples

The Intercontinental Hotel held a special night event called Santa Lucia, which is when Christmas trees are traditionally lit.

The hotel's choir entertained guests, who had the chance to meet Santa Claus while enjoying several refreshments.

At the ceremony at Le Meridian hotel, guests were treated to the beautiful voices of the Pioneers International Private School's student choir.

The event, which was held in the central garden, also had festive food stalls that provided Christmas-themed food, such as traditional roasted chestnuts, cakes and candy apples.

The Shangri-la Hotel and Millennium Hotel both had their Christmas tree lighting ceremonies on December 16.

While both had choirs and Santa Claus entertaining their guests, Millennium hotel provided something a little bit extra to those who attended.

"At our ceremony, as soon as the General Manager concluded his welcome speech, the children's choir from the Evangelical Community Church of Abu Dhabi entertained our guests," said Nevine Albert Ezzat, the hotel's Public Relations and Communications Director.

Holiday cheer

"When they finished, the lights in the lobby were turned off, signalling the lighting of our Christmas tree," he said.

Le Royal Meridian, on the other hand, had decided to try something different this year.

"Instead of a tree lighting ceremony, we will have an in-house Christmas choir that will entertain our guests from December 18 through to 25," Suzanne McLean, Public Relations Manager, said.

"We will be offering our guests a complimentary beverage in the lobby during that period," she added.

Many Christian expatriates are grateful for such efforts by hotels to bring some holiday cheer to the city.

The atmosphere enables them to talk and share the joy of Christmas season with their colleagues, friends and families.

As a result, they not only learn about each other's traditions, but also connect with each other during this special time.