It’s that time of year again… Christmas songs are dominating the airwaves, wafts of cinnamon and gingerbread are everywhere. People are scrambling to decorate and prep their homes for their loved ones.
To celebrate the season and ring in the New Year the right way, we asked Appirians around the world to share their holiday traditions.
What holidays, if any, do you celebrate at this time of year?
Glenn Weinstein, CIO and Co-founder of Appirio: “We celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.”
Hina Jehan, Ascend Consultant at Appirio: “I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family because some of my family is Italian-American and some are from Argentina. So, we are pretty mixed. We also celebrate Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr during the year. Recently, celebrated Diwali with my friends.”
Eduardo Lamazares, VP of Sales, East US at Appirio: “We celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.”
Enda Traynor, European CRM Technical Team Manager: “In Ireland, Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year and the time when people take a break from work and spend time with families and friends.”
Masami Ohara, HR Manager Appirio Japan: “I celebrate Year-End and New- Year.”
Nora-Al-Qadi, Workday Thrive Engineering Specialist: “Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years!”
Yogesh Agarwal, Senior Director for Learning and Development: “We have most of our holidays in the second half of the year. In India, it’s not just a month but the entire year full of festivals and traditions. Born and raised in Jaipur- the city of temples, I celebrate all festivals with a lot of vigor and energy. For me, the biggest holiday season starts with Diwali and goes on till Makar Sankranti- the festival of kites that happens in January.”
Gaurav Pruthi, General Manager APAC at Appirio: “With my roots from India, we celebrate Diwali, but having lived in Australia for most of my life, Christmas is also a big celebration in my family. ”
What is the one tradition or ritual that really makes you feel you’re in the holiday spirit?
Glenn Weinstein: “We love hosting family for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. We all live far apart, so getting my parents, my brothers, their families, and our own (adult) children to come to visit for Thanksgiving can be logistically challenging, but nothing beats the feeling of a full house!”
Hina Jehan: “Playing secret Santa with coworkers.”
Eduardo Lamazares: “In Latin cultures, Christmas Eve is the biggest night of the entire holiday season. Getting together with family on Christmas Eve for a spectacular meal and friendship really defines the season.”
Enda Traynor: “Christmas Eve is probably my favorite day of the holidays; I generally spend some of the day picking up last-minute presents and then meet friends in the pub close to where we all grew up - many will have traveled in from far away locations (Australia, US, UK, Waterford!) This is one time of the year where everyone is together in the same place.”
Masami Ohara: “I like to celebrate the traditional events. Buddhist temples have a tradition of striking a Christmas eve bell 108 times around the midnight of December 31. (In Buddhist beliefs, humans are born with 108 worldly desires that are removed when the bell is struck 108 times. We have another theory, but my favorite is this.) It takes 30-90 minutes depending on the temple you visit. I used to eat Japanese noodles while listening to the bell sound (before new year) with my parents and sister when I was a child, and so do my husband and me now. Many people physically visit the temple; however, my family stays at home and watches television -visiting many great temples in one night virtually.”
Nora-Al-Qadi: “One of my favorite traditions is the annual Ugly Sweater Party that my friends have. It's a time to get together, dress in our favorite ugly Christmas sweaters and get in the holiday spirit.”
Yogesh Agarwal: “While many people like Diwali the most, I prefer celebrating Makar Sankranti the most for various reasons:
- Sankranti happens at the time when you get maximum sunlight; it’s a festival of harvest. Almost everyone is seen thronging the rooftops including kids to middle-age to elderly people. Typically, Kite flying is an excuse to gather sunlight as Sun moves into Makar (Capricorn) on its celestial path. To Hindus, Sun stands for unity, equality, and spiritual light.
- Along with flying kites, we spend quality time with family eating lots of rich food including groundnuts, jaggery, til (sesame seeds) that revives the dry skin in winters. Bright-colored kites, spools and threads paint a perfect picture in the sky during the day. In the evening, the sky in Jaipur city looks like a million dollars dotted by picturesque Chinese lamps, lanterns and firecrackers.”
Gaurav Pruthi: “I have a Diwali party every year at my place and I invite my closest friends over for drinks, lots of delicious food, and playing cards. It gets me in the spirit knowing that year is coming to the end and that Christmas is also around the corner.”
Do you celebrate holidays differently now than you did when you were a child?
Glenn Weinstein: “When I was growing up, we used to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends. Over time, it's become more of a family holiday for us. Now, I spend most of my time on this day with my entire family gathering in one place; we talk, eat together, and share a lot of fun things.”
Hina Jehan: “As a child, I only celebrated Eid but after moving to the United States, I have been celebrating all holidays. That is the beauty of living in a multicultural country.”
Eduardo Lamazares: “That’s a great question. I do celebrate a bit differently. As a child, another tradition my family had was attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve. So we would finish a meal at home and then go to church until around 1:30 am to celebrate Christmas and welcome it in together.
Enda Traynor: “Christmas now is based around relaxing, spending time with family and friends, and giving and receiving presents. Exactly how it was as a child! :”
Masami Ohara: “I spend the year-end and New Year holiday the same way when I was a child.”
Nora-Al-Qadi: “The biggest difference now that I am an adult is the opportunity I have to give my loved ones gifts as opposed to just receiving gifts like when I was a child. ”
Yogesh Agarwal: “The child in me is still alive. Over the years, the way we used to celebrate festivals has changed as now we have become more responsible towards the environment and surroundings. I make sure that my kids and I use things that don’t harm the environment. Using organic colors during Holi (the festival of colors) and celebrating a green Diwali help us contribute a little to nature and save the environment from pollution.”
Gaurav Pruthi: “No, we still celebrate the holidays the same way. My mom would make sure we enjoyed the Christmas break. It was so exciting for me I was young to know that Santa would be arriving soon.”
Share an interesting story about any of your past holiday celebration?
Glenn Weinstein: “Years ago, when our kids were little, we got an amazing Disney-style Hanukkah menorah in the shape of a fire engine, with Mickey Mouse driving and Goofy hanging on for dear life. The menorah is pretty fragile, but somehow it's survived many, many Hanukkahs and has become the "official" Weinstein family menorah.”
Hina Jehan: “When I lived in NY, a couple of my friends usually got together on Thanksgiving and we celebrated by serving food at senior centers and in homeless shelters.”
Eduardo Lamazares: “Maybe the most unique evening I remember was one Thanksgiving where we flew to my wife’s family’s house in El Salvador (Central America) to visit her mom since we had a few days off of work. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in that country so I thought no mention of it would occur. I was wrong. On Thanksgiving evening, we went to a friend’s’ place and enjoyed the most spectacular Thanksgiving feast I have ever seen, with several Turkeys, stuffing, cranberry sauce. All of the traditions of an American Thanksgiving in another country, and the home was filled with good friends and laughter. It was truly an amazing experience.”
Enda Traynor: “Christmas presents in our house were always partly for the humans but mostly for Spike, our West Highland Terrier present opening machine. Sadly, he is no longer with us to help open our presents but the memory of his excitement and assistance lives long.”
Masami Ohara: “We eat Zoni (rice cake soup) in New Years, and the ingredients are very different in each area.
Nora-Al-Qadi: “My family celebrates Eid Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr. Both these holidays are based on the Lunar Calendar, so their dates change every year roughly by 10 days. Eid for my family consists of waking up early to get ready, going to the Mosque for prayer, exchanging gifts and then going around to spend time with friends & family all day. As a kid, it also meant getting more candy than I probably needed.”
Yogesh Agarwal: “I come from a rural background, where we used to live in a joint family with a number of people under roof. My grandfather used to bring firecrackers for everyone in the house, equally divided among all kids. That time, we used to trade in more explosive and noisy firecrackers with our sisters and offer them soft sparkles in return. It was more of a community coming together that I miss even today.”
Gaurav Pruthi: “I dress up as Santa for the kids in family and neighborhood. However, now the big kids start yelling, “It's just Uncle Gaurav, not the real Santa!” Without fail, the babies whoop when I start giving away the presents.”
In your opinion, what is the true significance of celebrating the various holidays we have across the world?
Glenn Weinstein: “Anything that brings family and friends closer together, and makes us more considerate of the people and the world around us, is a good thing.”
Hina Jehan: “Just like sports, this is the best way to understand other people’s history, culture, and life experiences. The holidays allow you to experience their joy and stand together with them during times of grief. In addition to this, it allows you to try different cuisines from all over the world. Breaking bread with others during holidays helps you to truly understand another human without judgment.”
Eduardo Lamazares: “I think the significance is a deep understanding of how to hold cultures and traditions together with values held dear in different regions around the world. There is a common goodness that is universal regardless of specific beliefs of any culture. Celebrating what we hold dear, the values, traditions, and beliefs of our ancestors give us a connection across time and across the world that connects us to each other in ways much deeper than the daily rhythms of our normal lives.”
Enda Traynor: “Holiday season is a rare time when people tend to really switch off from work and connect with family and friends. Often during annual leave, people tend to stay somewhat connected to work as their colleagues will still be online and so various work items may still pop up on their phone. During the holiday period, everyone is off together and so work can be properly put to the back of your mind.”
Masami Ohara: “To remember the history and strengthen family bonds.”
Nora-Al-Qadi: “I love the opportunity to take a break from the normal day-to-day to celebrate the different cultures and traditions of those around the world. The holidays are truly a time to remember what is important and enjoy the company of those you love most.”
Yogesh Agarwal: “Celebrating festivals and traditions gives us a break from our mundane routines and stimulates us to meet and spend time with our loved ones that we usually skip in our everyday life. I witnessed ‘Art and Wind Festival’ in the US and Halloween in Japan, and thus, I can vouch for the fact that though we have different cultures across the globe, everyone shares the same intent of having a good time with family and friends when it comes to celebrating holiday traditions. ”
Gaurav Pruthi: “I think it is a way to stop, spend time with family, and be thankful for what you have.”
We’re so grateful to have such amazing, dedicated and passionate coworkers who bring their unique flavor to all the events we celebrate across our Appirio offices. Don’t forget to stop by and visit our Worker Experience section to hear all about how they are empowered to work with the latest Cloud technology and why they're thankful to be Appirians.
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