Ah yes, the most wonderful time of the year is here! Traditionally many Americans anticipate the Christmas season and all the joy that it brings, including observing spiritual traditions, seeing our family and friends, eating tasty foods, giving and receiving gifts, and, perhaps, attending one too many holiday parties!
Christmas is a big deal in the United States, but how do people celebrate the December holidays around the world? Since Samtec is a global company with 40+ facilities, I checked in with a some of our international locations to find out about their holiday traditions.
Sweden and Finland
Niklas Maansson, Samtec Nordic Sales Manager explains, “December in Sweden is all about light.As we have little natural light this time of the year. Christmas kicks off slowly with 1st of Advent when we light the first candle and decorate our homes and grounds with all kinds of lights. December 13th we celebrate the saint of light, Lucia. We gather to watch a Disney episode running every year since 1958 at 3 PM, then we move on to gifts and the world-famous Swedish buffet, smorgasbord. Among the reoccurring attractions are traditional ham, meatballs, different kinds of salmon and herring and an assortment of predominately smoked charcuteries. Christmas Day is normally a quiet affair. Days between Christmas and New Years are referred to as ‘the in between days.’”
Samtec’s David Pike, one of our bloggers, says, “Christmas in the UK is our biggest winter holiday. Traditions vary between families regarding presents. One highlight of Christmas day for many in the UK and much of the Commonwealth is the Royal Christmas Message. It is a tradition that was started by George V in 1932 when he spoke directly to the nation via radio on Christmas Day. While not watched by everyone, it has become a source of comfort and hope for millions around the world. Of course, this year will see a new tradition as we have a new King. Charles III will give his speech at 3pm UK time, and I am sure he will pay tribute to his Mother, and talk about hopes for the New Year.
New Year’s Eve has been a big event for many, but no one celebrates New Year’s Eve better than Scotland, where it is known as Hogmanay. The exact origins are lost far back in history, but it might trace its roots back to the Viking celebrations of the winter solstice. It is such a big deal for Scots that you could almost imagine Christmas as just a warm-up for Hogmanay. It’s almost as if you need two days to recover from the party!”
Ofer Dimant, Samtec Israel’s Sales Manager elaborates on Chanukah (also known as Hanukkah). “Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime ‘festival of lights,’ celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, and fried foods. The Hebrew word Chanukah means ‘dedication,’ and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Chanukah begins on the eve of Kislev 25 (Hebrew calendar) and continues for eight days. On the civil calendar, it generally coincides with the month of December and runs from December 18-26th.
“At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting. The menorah holds nine flames, one of which is the shamash (‘attendant’), which is used to kindle the other eight lights. On the first night, we light just one flame. On the second night, an additional flame is lit. By the eighth night of Chanukah, all eight lights are kindled. Special blessings are recited, often to a traditional melody, before the menorah is lit, and traditional songs are sung afterward. A menorah is lit in every household (or even by each individual within the household) and placed in a doorway or window. The menorah is also lit in synagogues and other public places.”
Ryan Gong, Samtec Asia marketing specialist explained, “Spring Festival is the most important festival to both Chinese mainland + Taiwan. In recent decades, the influence of Chinese New Year has been expanding, with celebrations taking place all over the world, wherever there are Chinese people.
It’s a very old festival with thousands of years history. Among all the Chinese holidays, Chinese Spring Festival plays an irreplaceable role. That’s why during this traditional holiday, most of the Chinese people will not work anymore, they will choose to go back their hometown and stay with their families, no matter how far away home is.
Speaking of traditions, people will put up couplets, keep awake at New Year Night, offer sacrifices to the ancestors, play lion dances, set off fireworks and watch the CCTV Spring Festival Gala together. Also, the traditional food will be on the menu: rice cakes, dumplings, spring rolls, tea and fruit snacks.”
It was a pleasure learning what holidays our Samtec locations participate in world wide. However, you and your families celebrate the holidays, Samtec wishes you a Merry Christmas, God fortsättning, Hanukkah Sameach, Xīnnián hǎo – and Happy New Year from all of us!