A festive insight into a feast of cultural customs

Thu 22 Dec 2016
Posted by: IOE News

Landmarks wearing christmas hats with presents


In the Christmas countdown we wanted to celebrate the colourful and wonderful diversity of Xmas and New Year customs of some of our European neighbours – and countries further afield.

The widely differing celebrations across these territories also illustrate the importance of being equipped with an understanding of local cultures when trading in overseas markets.

We’ve focused on some of the countries featured in our dynamic series of Doing Business Guides, each designed to give international traders a basic knowledge about a particular country to help them export there. Inexperienced exporters in particular find them a useful starting point and we signpost other sources of help and information as much as possible.

A new guide to Denmark has made its debut this month and a guide to Poland will be launched in the New Year. Coming hot on the heels of launches for Romania, Spain and Thailand at Going Global, they bring the list of recently published Doing Business Guides to 12. The others are Angola, Australia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Kazakhstan and Vietnam.

An insight into seasonal celebrations in these locations has highlighted how, in Australia,  most families enjoy a Christmas Day cold dinner or a barbecue with prawns and lobsters – with many savouring Boxing Day in streaming sunshine on the beach.

In Vietnam, Christmas Eve is often more important than Christmas day and is marked with the throwing of confetti in streets thronged with people.

Christmas Day masses in Angola attract very large crowds, although the occasion is also celebrated by non-Christians, with festivities lasting until the New Year. Traditionally, resources are shared with poorer households and a seasonal dish is ‘bolo-rei’ (king cake) – a sweet cake introduced by the Portuguese.

In Italy, the celebrations start eight days before Christmas with a special series of prayers and church services. ‘Babbo Natale’ (Father Christmas) brings presents to children on Christmas Eve, but gifts are only exchanged on 6th January, the twelfth night.

Christians in Kazakhstan celebrate on the Sunday before Christmas Day, as the Muslim country does not hold an official holiday for the occasion. New Year is a major calendar event and children receive presents from the jolly Snow Father bedecked in a red suit.

In Poland, Santa Claus usually appears on 6th December, the feast of St Nicholas, with festivities continuing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Polish homes are cleaned specially and adorned with decorations some days before 25th December – with Christmas trees dressed with candles or lights and wrapped treats on Christmas Eve.

Business visitors who show a familiarity with a country’s customs can impress local partners and customers by having done their homework – making them best placed to take advantage of the myriad of opportunities.

Our Doing Business Guides are available to download on the website or you can download an app (from both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store). You can also order a free full colour hard copy brochure here.