This year we talked with some of our IPREX network’s 68 independent agencies around the world to hear about the holiday traditions they share as a workplace.
Here at SDI, each person picks a name out of a hat for “Secret Santa” and we exchange small gifts. Our Chairman Susan Ann Davis hosts a Christmas party at her home where we read aloud funny poems for each staff member and a pianist plays Christmas carols. We pass around songbooks so we can all sing along together. (The occasional Journey song slips in.)
We learned that our IPREX partner dcp Strategic Communication in Northern Ireland does funny £5 secret Santa gifts for each other. They have a festive lunch in the office, often with karaoke afterwards! dcp also gives an annual donation in lieu of client gifts to a charity that works with children in Ethiopia. They send out an e-card at Christmas to let clients know what the donation has meant to the families. In Northern Ireland, Christmas is very much family-oriented, so the staff takes a long break right through the New Year’s holiday.
ACA Communicatie, our IPREX partner in Amsterdam has a special food tradition. They eat oliebollen— balls of dough with raisins cooked in oil– a typical Dutch treat.
Over in Dusseldorf, our partner m/e brand communication tells us that on the evening of December 6th, children in Germany place a pair of shoes in front of the house’s front door hoping to get chocolates and candies delivered by Santa Claus. m/e has picked up this tradition for their team – but hand out the gifts directly without placing them in shoes! The office team has a Christmas dinner at a restaurant and on December 23rd they share cocktails in the office accompanied by a few words from the CEO. In Germany December 24th is Holy Night, the most important day of the Christmas festivity when families meet, have dinner, exchange gifts and go to church.
Arenalia Comunicación told us about the quite peculiar but very funny tradition in Barcelona at Christmas called “caga tió.” On Christmas Eve children hit a small log with a painted face called “caga tió” with a stick and sing a traditional song, hoping that the log will magically give them presents. Arenalia Comunicación celebrates a little bit differently as an office by getting together for a nice dinner somewhere in town. They also get a box of goodies to share with their families withturrón, neules, and polvorones — all the sweet things they normally eat at Christmas along with a nice bottle of wine.
Our Berlin based agency wbpr Public Relations GmbH likes to keep their office festive by putting up Christmas decorations and branches that carry sweets. They also hang Christmas calendars all over the agency that hold a sweet for each day until the 24th. This year wbpr had a Christmas party for the company in a rustic restaurant where they serve German plain fare and also did a secret santa exchange.
In Malaysia, our partner Rantau PR shared their style of celebration called ‘open house’, which is very unique to their country. Festivities are enjoyed with not only family, but they open their houses to friends, colleagues and to whomever they may wish to bring along. Celebrations for Christmas may start with a family gathering on Christmas Eve and continue into boxing day with guests visiting at various times. It’s also a feast of various cultures – you have a mix of Western styled roast turkey, ham, chicken, salad with Chinese, Indian and Malay dishes. Rantau PR takes the opportunity of Christmas tidings to hold their annual Christmas party. This year, they invited all guests to contribute stationary to a charity gift box, which was then presented to over 50 children at two homes – Rumah Hope (House of Hope) and Agathian’s Shelter.
PowerAxle in Madrid tells us that Spanish tradition says that wearing new, red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year. Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the twelve grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne, or alternatively with cider. Early next morning, party attendees usually gather to have the traditional winter breakfast of chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and fried pastry).