When you’re working in an intercultural community – the greeting – Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year – becomes a minefield of what is culturally acceptable and what isn’t. And not everybody celebrates it the same way or even on the same day as well. Therefore pay attention what you are going to say to whom.
What to say
To start with the greeting: Happy holidays is getting more and more popular, but especially for people of faith, it’s seen as a hollow phrase. Better stick to the merry when you’re sending a greeting abroad. After you of course have checked whether or not they actually celebrate Christmas and if New Year starts on the same day. The answer sometimes might surprise you!
When is Christmas?
When people celebrate Christmas can differ as well. The Netherlands is greedy and has two Christmases! The first is on December 5th. This day is all about Sinterklaas, a patron for children, handing out presents. Then there is the actual Christmas – but again the Dutch are a little different as Christmas Day is known as 1st day of Christmas and December 26th is known as 2nd day of Christmas. 24th December, Christmas Eve, is a regular day in the Netherlands. Other than midnight mass, nothing else happens on Christmas Eve.
In the UK December 26th is known as Boxing day. This is normally the day where you stay at home, eat leftovers and watch TV or boxsets.
Not just a Western thing
You might think that Abu Dhabi and Dubai don’t celebrate Christmas. Wrong! The malls have some of the largest decorated Christmas trees known to man, the stores and hotels are decked out in all manner of festive finery and it is common to celebrate Christmas day at one of the many brunches offered across the two cities. You can order your Christmas turkey and fresh trees from one of the many western supermarkets or order you whole Christmas meal to be catered for you, collect it or get it delivered and heat it up before you sit down & relax for your luscious feast.
Enjoy the holidays, whenever and wherever ;).
Happy communicating – Nadine