Jana Ina Zarrella
We sing Christmas in all languages
“Christmas is the best time of the year for me,” enthuses Jana Ina Zarrella. These traditions are particularly close to her heart.
Jana Ina Zarrella (44) has fulfilled a childhood dream. As part of Coca-Cola’s “Real Magic” Christmas campaign, the presenter was allowed to spend the night in the iconic Christmas truck. “It was a great experience,” enthuses the mother of two in an interview and reveals which Christmas traditions she places particular emphasis on in her family.
How was your night in the Christmas truck?
Jana Ina Zarrella: I had the feeling that a childhood dream was coming true. Everyone has certainly wished to see the “Coca-Cola Truck” live and I was even allowed to spend the night there. It was really cozy and I quickly got into the Christmas mood – it was a great experience!
Many automatically have the characteristic Santa Claus in mind. Who brings the presents to you at home?
Zarrella: Santa Claus has always brought presents to us. He comes through the fireplace when everyone is asleep and leaves the presents under the Christmas tree.
You are Brazilian, your husband Giovanni is Italian and your children were born in Germany. Don’t completely different Christmas traditions collide?
Zarrella: Italians and Brazilians celebrate Christmas in a similar way. The whole family comes together, we pray and there is a lot of food. It’s loud and everyone stays up late. There is singing in all languages and the kids have a lot of fun.
How did you celebrate Christmas when you were a child?
Zarrella: When I think of Christmas, I have the best memories in front of my eyes. I have many cousins who are scattered around Brazil. But at Christmas we all came together and on Christmas Eve we all celebrated at my grandmother’s. We had to put on a play and tell everyone the story of Jesus. Then we sang, ate and only then opened the presents. We stayed up for a long time and loved it. I always try to make our Christmas parties warm. Christmas is the best time of the year for me.
Which tradition is your favorite?
Zarrella: We always pray on Christmas Eve before we start eating. It is important to me that our children learn what exactly is celebrated that day. We are all Catholic and for us this evening is holy.
What should you definitely have on the menu for Christmas?
Zarrella: We’ve all been eating fish on Christmas Eve since I was married to an Italian. On Christmas Eve, Giovanni’s mom takes over the cooking, she cooks so well and conjures up incredible dishes for us! Turkey is traditionally eaten in Brazil.
Does that mean you are exempt from cooking for Christmas?
Zarrella: I always take care of dessert. I love to bake and that’s why I’m always responsible for the cakes and pies.
Do you also bake cookies?
Zarrella: Of course. For me this is one of the most beautiful traditions that I learned in Germany. I always bake with the kids – they have a lot of fun doing it. The kitchen mostly looks like a little blast afterwards, but it’s definitely worth it.
Have you ever fled from the hustle and bustle of Christmas?
Zarrella: We actually went away a couple of times for Christmas, when the family had a little Christmas party at home beforehand. I love this time of year and the Christmas spirit. I could never do without a Christmas party with the family.
What was the bizarre gift you’ve ever received for Christmas?
Zarrella: My grandma gave us new pillows every Christmas because she was firmly convinced that you always need a new one. We always had a lot of pillows at home. (laughs)
And the best present?
Zarrella: No money in the world can buy the most beautiful gift. There is nothing like seeing the children’s eyes when, for example, they see the Christmas tree full of presents. My family is just my best gift