Festive Traditions Around the World
As you may have noticed, for a few weeks now our thoughts have been firmly on the approaching festive period. With a network of more than 150 countries worldwide comprising of our own entities and partners, we thought this was the ideal opportunity to find out what Christmas and December means in different countries.
For this week’s special Christmas article, we asked the Mauve family to share the traditions they love to celebrate at Christmas, and any other festivities that were unique to their home country. Read on for a picture of Christmas across the Mauve network…
Marketing Co-Ordinator Demetra Tofarides comes from a Greek Cypriot family, and told us about some of the festive traditions in the country:
Additionally on Christmas Day, Cypriots make three types of Christmas cookies:
- Koulourakia – a basic cookie similar to shortbread
- Melomakarona – darker coloured, quite moist and sweet with a little kick – the main ingredients are flour, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and sugar.
- Kourambiedes – these are almond and butter cookies with almonds in the centre and topped with lots of icing sugar.
Immigration Manager Emma Prodromou told us about Cypriot Santa:
She also said that on Christmas Day or at any time of the year, “…if you turn up at any Cypriot house, invited or not, there would be enough food to go round and there’d still be left overs!”
Payroll Manager Lorna Ferrie has brought her Scottish family traditions to Cyprus:
As a British expatriate to Cyprus, Sales Support Lisa Jaques made the most of the ambient weather by comparison to the UK:
Dubai is a Muslim country and therefore does not officially celebrate Christmas. However, due to the large number of resident expatriates, Dubai has welcomed festive celebrations such as winter festivals and markets, and many expatriates attend opulent brunches in hotels across the city on Christmas Day – a modern tradition that takes place the rest of the year on Fridays, the first day of the UAE weekend.
Unsurprisingly, many of the English responses to our enquiries involved a tipple (!) and lots of delicious food. The English typically eat a roast dinner of turkey, goose or other roast meats with vegetables, gravy, Yorkshire puddings made from batter and “pigs in blankets” – small sausages wrapped in bacon. Presents are opened on Christmas Day after a visit from Father Christmas and many families sit down to the Queen’s Speech after lunch – a review of the year from the country’s monarch.
Sales Manager Annette Ord said:
Business Development & Global Operations Jo Hart will have a Bucks Fizz (champagne mixed with orange juice) and a cup of tea – even at 6am!
Data and Systems Co-Ordinator Anna Wyatt said her Christmas morning consisted of:
Digital Marketing and Content Editor Rosalind Smith said:
Christmas in Colombia is a huge celebration and party, starting on 7th December with Dia de las Velitas, or “Day of the Little Candles”. Houses are covered in candles, lanterns and lights, and there are fireworks displays and dancing. From mid December until Christmas day, Colombians take part in “novenas” where family, friends and neighbours come together to pray in the days leading up to Christmas.
The Christmas meal or “Cena de Navidad” is eaten on the evening of Christmas Eve. Dishes include lechona (pork stuffed with rice and peas), ham, turkey or a chicken soup called “Ajiaco Bogotano”. Other foods eaten at this time of year include arepas (a thick pancake made from corn), hojuelas (a fried pastry with sugar and jam) and a dessert called “Natilla” which is a set custard.
Management Consultant Meryl Haynes gave us some insight on a fascinating ancient Welsh Christmas practice:
Country Representative & Business Development Coordinator Teresa Lewis is Welsh but now lives in Ireland – she recalls some childhood traditions:
Sales and Business Development Consultant Ashleigh Duncan may be based in New Zealand but as a Scottish national, she told us about her favourite Scottish tradition of Hogmanay – a celebration of the last day of the year. People wear kilts and participate in traditional ceilidh dancing, and eat “stovies” – described by Ashleigh as a “potato and meat stew thing”!
Many traditions are similar to British due to the countries’ past connections. Christmas takes place in summer and so many South Africans will go to the countryside, go camping, or celebrate on the beach. The Christmas meal usually involves turkey, duck, roast beef or suckling pig with yellow rice and raisins and vegetables. This might be followed by Christmas Pudding or mince pies, or a traditional South African dessert called Malva or Lekker Pudding. If the weather is extremely hot, South Africans may have a barbecue or “braai”.
Operations Director Lisa Solda’ told us:
In Brazil, Santa Claus is called “Papai Noel” and “Bom Velhinho” which translates to Good Old Man. Sometimes children will leave a sock close to a window for Papai Noel – if he manages to find it, he’ll exchange it for a present.
Christmas in Brazil takes place during the middle of summer so it is usually very hot – many people go to the beach on Christmas Day.
Brazil is multi-cultural and so there are many different food traditions around the Christmas period coming from many different countries, but some favourite festive meals include pork, turkey, ham, salads served with rice cooked with raisins and “farofa” (seasoned manioc flour), and for dessert, fresh or dried tropical fruits.
Like Brazil, the USA is very multi-cultural and many Christmas traditions depend on the heritage of each family. Certain American traditions have been adopted across the Western World, such as the modern day image of Santa Claus with his white beard and red outfit. In 1931, the American drinks brand Coca-Cola commissioned a Michigan-born illustrator called Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images of Santa. Sundblom took inspiration from Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St Nicholas”/Twas the Night Before Christmas” and produced the depiction of Santa we know and love today.
We hope you enjoyed reading our round-up of festive traditions around the world, with input from our amazing team members. All that remains is for all of us at Mauve to wish you wonderful Christmas and New Year – we look forward to seeing you in 2020!