The final few weeks of the year provide an exciting time for many people around the world. The Christmas season, and its many variations across the globe, makes way for all kinds of cheer and festivities. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find any two countries celebrating the holiday in exactly the same way.
We’ve taken a look at how the season’s merriment and traditions affect the global business scene and just how differently Christmas is done in offices around the world.
Christmas Down Under looks very different to the wintery scenes of the UK. December here brings with it the height of summer, which means the office’s air conditioning system is ramped up and you’re sure to find bunches of ‘Christmas Bush’ (a native Australian tree) decorating the desks. Business workers enjoy their annual Christmas party – one company last year even arranged for a Slip ‘n Slide to be placed through the middle of the office for the staff’s amusement. Most businesses will close for the Christmas break, and apart from the big day itself, retail stores remain open throughout the festive period.
It’s said that Christmas is well and truly on the way in Poland when the smell of tangerines fills the workplace. Christmas is one of the country’s most important holidays, and the celebrations take place over two and a half days, with Christmas Eve (Wigilia) being just as important as the big day itself. Banks, government offices and most private businesses will close. While some office parties will take the form of a Christmas Eve supper, others will see co-workers simply heading out for a drink together. During public holidays in Poland, there’s a trade prohibition, so Christmas is very much a time for families.
As young children await their annual visit from Père Noël, you won’t find many people writing their colleagues Christmas cards. While it’s customary in the UK for office desks to be littered with the well wishes and joviality of greetings cards, in France writing cards has never been the done thing. Aside from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, it’s business as usual in France, with many workers preparing for their main Christmas meal – Reveillon – which is eaten on Christmas Eve.
Christmas festivities spill over in to the following day in the US, and most businesses will get December 26th off where it’s been declared a state holiday. Secret Santa, for which staff members will draw the name of a colleague to buy a present for, is popular in America, and the identity of the gift-giver is revealed at the office Christmas party. A lively game often played at the office party is Yankee Swap (or a white elephant gift exchange), in which participants choose gifts not knowing who it is from before being given the chance to swap it for something better.
Christmastime in Sweden will often provide postcard-perfect landscapes, with displays and lights set up by early November. The first of the season’s office parties are held from the beginning of December. Shops stay open in the run up to Christmas Day, and pop-up Christmas markets have become increasingly popular to cater for the tourist trade. December 24th is the big day in this area of the world and almost everything is closed, as families settle down to exchange gifts.
Christmas traditions will always vary around the world, as they draw on local culture and the various idiosyncrasies of the country, but there’s always plenty to celebrate and lots of fun to be had.