TrustYou Holiday Special: Seasonal Cheer Across The Globe
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and all across the globe, TrustYou adventurers are getting ready for the holidays, each in their own way. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, or any other end of year celebration, we are all going above and beyond to get in that festive mood and do our traditions justice.
Over the years, we have noticed how, coming from so many different countries and cultures, our traditions can differ quite a lot. Diversity is something that we value deeply within our company and this year we decided to listen to team members around the globe and talk about their favorite holiday traditions: their country’s specific customs, office celebrations, and the interesting little things that we might not have known about each other. From Germany to Romania, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, China, Singapore, Colombia, Japan, Costa Rica, United States, and even Australia, - just like Santa does every year - we’re going to take a quick trip around the world!
If you’re like many of the TrustYou adventurers and part of the Northern Hemisphere and you have already envisioned a white Christmas, then this might hit you like a heatwave. Some of our colleagues are actually used to celebrating the holidays in a less cold and snowy environment… with a palm tree instead of a Christmas one! Mike from the Enterprise Services Team told us about the holiday season in beautiful Costa Rica, where people celebrate the new year on the beach, with bonfires, songs, drinks, and fireworks. Something very similar goes on the other end of the world map, in Australia, where our Office Manager Danielle says that most people head to the beach on Christmas day, after opening presents in the morning. Later in the day, they try to keep off the extreme heat, usually by having a swim in a pool or the ocean and they also have a big family Christmas lunch, with cold meats, seafood, and salads.
Switching back to some colder temperatures, there’s nothing that beats Christmas near the north pole! Being from Finland, our Business Development Manager Iina told us that’s where the holidays begin for her every year. Finnish people usually enjoy a true white Christmas and children witness the start of Santa’s journey, on the 24 of December. They watch him on TV and can even call Santa to ask for presents. Talk about lucky kids!
But don’t get too warm and cozy just yet because we’re taking you on an emotional rollercoaster. Off to Germany, where holiday horror is an actual thing! While we all think of Santa as a nice old grandpa with kind eyes, German people also know the other side of that coin. Our Marketing Director Katharina tells us that in southern Germany, there is a celebration of Krampus, Santa’s helper, a creature that’s the subject of some good old Christmas horror stories. He comes in chains, punishes the naughty kids and probably gives a whole new meaning to “he sees you when you’re sleeping.” On the other hand, New Year’s is safe from any horror elements (unless you count gym resolutions), and our colleague Theresa from our Business Development team, mentions that a very popular black-and-what short film called “Dinner for One”, originally British, is a staple in German homes and everyone watches it on New Year’s Eve.
Not too far away, in Spain, New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a fruity way. While most of us are used to popping champagne at midnight, watching the fireworks, or hugging our loved ones, Spanish people are busy stuffing 12 grapes in their mouths, for good luck in every month of the year to come. Belen, HR Manager in the recently opened Madrid office, tells us that Spain is also known for its famous lottery game that happens during the holiday period, where people can win huge amounts of money (the best Christmas present, if you ask me). Spain also has some other smaller in-between holidays, like Dia de los Santos Inocentes, their own version of April fool’s day.
While in Europe, let’s swing by Romania, where Miruna, our Marketing Executive, says that Christmas is celebrated with decorated trees, festive markets, caroling, and SO. MUCH. FOOD. That’s right, Romanians take great pride in their cabbage rolls, meats, and “cozonaci” - sweet cakes that are usually baked during the holidays and fill every house with a delicious smell. In our Cluj office, people organize Secret Santa every year and turn it into an actual event: with a real Santa (more or less; might just be one of us in costume, we’ll never know), a beautiful Christmas tree, and festive treats for everyone.
Secret Santa is also part of the American traditions, as our Director of Product Management Rachel, mentions. The holidays is the United States are pretty much like we have all seen them in so many movies over the years: with advent calendars, wreaths, Christmas trees, light on every house, mulled wine, American football, and all that festive goodness. That really sounds like a true American dream that we are all familiar with, but have you ever wondered what Christmas is like in Lithuania? Aiste, Project Manager, remembers many traditional Christmas Eves in her country, when people decorate the real, fresh-smelling trees and keep the same habits every year. They don’t serve meat or sweets during their Christmas dinner but they end their night with poppy seed milk, to have what is probably the best night's sleep ever, and leave their shoes under the Christmas trees, for Santa to fill them up with presents.
Moving on to the other side of the globe, Chinese people are more interested in celebrating the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Product Designer Yimin tells us that traditions differ according to region, but in general, the winter solstice is meant to be a day for families to gather around the dinner table and enjoy delicious dishes, like rice balls and dumplings.
Not too far from there, in Japan families engage in massive home cleanings, to mark the end of the year. From what our Marketing Manager Akira mentioned, it sounds like the Japanese take on the Marie Kondo cleaning style and throw away any unnecessary things, to start the new year with refreshed minds and clean homes.
Now onto some destinations in Latin America: being from Colombia, our Business Development Manager Katherine tells us that celebrations start nine full days before December 24th, with what is called “novenas”. That is basically a set of prayers that begin nine days before the birth of baby Jesus. The prayers are recited as a group, usually in a different house each day, followed by everyone singing traditional Christmas songs, as well as eating traditional Colombian Christmas food. On the night of the new year, Colombian people walk the streets with a life-sized doll dressed in normal clothing but stuffed with fireworks. The doll’s name is “El Año Viejo” and refers to “the year that we leave behind”.
Brazilian traditions tend to be more spiritual and Emmanuel, Business Development Manager, told us all about them. According to him, most Brazilian families decorate their tree on the 1st of December and have a big Christmas dinner on the 24th, along with their entire family. The meal is normally served around 10 pm on Christmas Eve, and exactly at Midnight people make a toast wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and exchange presents.
For New Year’s Eve, Brazilians go to the ocean’s edge, throw white flowers, and send candles floating out into the ocean as offerings to the Ocean Goddess (Goddess Iemanjá). These offerings are made in hopes that Iemanjá will grant their New Year’s wishes. Also, the Brazilian culture suggests for everyone to wear white, as a sign of peace and prosperity.
Office celebrations are also important for our TrustYou adventurers around the globe and we organize Christmas parties that allow us to spend quality time together outside of work and enjoy great food, good music, and full-on parties. In Cluj, the annual Christmas party marks the highlight of the year, while in Japan, the “bonekai” (end-of-year party) is a gathering of both friends and coworkers. Our colleagues in Japan usually have a busy month of December, since customs suggest to attend several parties, organized by clients and partners.
We hope you enjoyed taking this ride across the world with us and before we all go back to our homes and celebrate the holidays, we want to thank you for another amazing year! Thank you to our supporters, to our clients, partners, and of course, team members. Happy holidays to each and every one of you and here’s to a new year filled with joy and success!