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Christmas in Detroit is different for young European Wings

Zadina and Ehn miss family and traditions from back in Czech Republic and Sweden

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings will enjoy their four-day break over Christmas but it's not quite enough time for some of the players to return home.

Filip Zadina hails from the Czech Republic and Christoffer Ehn is from Sweden so they'll be spending the holiday far from home, where the traditions aren't exactly the same as the ones in the United States and Canada.

"We're celebrating Christmas the day before you do," Zadina said. "We have 24th at night, basically around 5, 6, 7 p.m. We have a dinner with a potato salad, with like a fish, fried fish or schnitzel. Who(ever) doesn't eat fish, it's schnitzel. Then we just go open the presents, open the gifts.

"We don't have Santa Claus, we have Ježíšek Christus, which is probably the same. The person who gives us gifts, presents, is just called Ježíšek (baby Jesus). We have dinner and then we just go open our gifts. That's it. It's just enjoying time, the whole family together, having a good time with the candles and the trees and the smell from outside, the winter. It's basically the same like you guys but we just do it at the evening and you open the gifts in the morning."

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Ehn admitted that he will definitely be thinking about the traditional Swedish Christmas meal.

"I think the food is kind of special for Sweden," Ehn said. "A lot of meatballs, sausages. Just the Christmas dinner in general, you make a special Christmas-type ham. I think just the food in general is a little bit different. That's the thing I would look most forward to if I was at home.

"So I kind of miss it but I think it'll be a good Christmas anyway."

Both players say that there are some really nice differences from back home here that they enjoy.

"I really like the Christmas lights everywhere that people put out on porches and houses and their gardens," Ehn said. "It isn't like that in Sweden really. So it makes it, especially in my town, really cozy and fun to see."

For Zadina, it's a holiday movie that he recalled fondly.

"When I was a kid, I was watching the movie, how do I say it in English, 'Lost Kevin'? (Home Alone 2; Lost in New York)," Zadina said. "It was when he was lost in New York. That's probably like I'm just living it right now, USA, first Christmas. I don't know. It's kind of special. But obviously it would be probably be better for me to be with my family at home.

"But just this time here with the guys, over Christmas, playing in the NHL, it's special."

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