Relocating families on assignment will experience new holidays and festivals while away from their home countries. Actively participating in local holidays can be an enjoyable and educational way to adapt and enrich a host country experience.
Understanding and discovering new, host country holidays while celebrating your own away from home can be an excellent way to embrace a new culture and make new friends with host country locals. In-country colleagues may also be impressed by an expat’s interest in understanding local culture / tradition.
A Sampling of Upcoming Celebrations
Consider just this very small sampling of holidays or festivals that relocating families on assignment have enjoyed:
- The Winter Solstice is celebrated throughout the world as the exact moment when half of Earth is tilted the farthest away from the sun – usually occurring on 21 or 22 of December in the Northern Hemisphere and June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. Many cultures took the opportunity to celebrate the shortest day of the year in anticipation of longer days to come. Ancient people built many monuments to celebrate the winter solstice. One example is Newgrange, a huge tomb mound built in Ireland around 3200 B.C., about a thousand years before Stonehenge.
- Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. This spiritual holiday is celebrated from 26 December to 1 January when millions dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light candles in a seven-branched holder called a “kinara”, which is Swahili for candle holder.
- Global religious holidays take place throughout December with amazing celebrations for Hanukkah and Christmas. Click on the links for more information.
- Chinese New Year is known as the Spring Festival and is a public holiday celebrated in China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. Fireworks, gatherings and meals with family and friends, lion and dragon dances and giving out a monetary gift during the holiday are all popular activities.
- Carnival is celebrated in more than 50 countries, but Brazil is the most extravagant, highly recognized by its vibrantly colored floats and costumes, massive parades, and an abundance of food, music and festivities.
Home Holidays Abroad
Celebrating new holidays and traditions in new countries may be different than back home but doing so can still be memorable. Often, employees on assignment will get together with other local expatriates to celebrate, use the time to travel within the region, or take a return trip home, if eligible.
If one remains open-minded and accepts that celebrating customary holidays and traditions around the world will be a bit different – but no less fun or festive – international holidays can prove a rewarding, educational, and memorable experience.