Tip 8: José Feliciano – Feliz Navidad

A reminder that it is not just Christmas here, it is Christmas in other countries as well. Indeed there are also places where it is not officially Christmas at all. When doing business outside the UK it is now a given that cultural awareness is as important as market awareness. Understanding how Christmas in celebrated, or not as the case may be, is just one area to take into account.

For example the Japanese may have Christmas decorations up in their shops and embrace the commercial aspects, but they normally work on Christmas Day, have a holiday on 23rd December to mark the Emperor’s birthday and then celebrate the New Year. In China Christmas Day is normally a  holiday in the parts of China that have colonial links, such as Hong Kong, but not elsewhere.

In central Europe the 24th is much more important than 25th with families exchanging presents during the evening. In Russia and other eastern orthodox countries Christmas is celebrated on or around 7th Jan based on the Julian calendar. In Greece the festive period lasts from 30 November to 6th January, which probably explains a lot (just kidding…).

Obviously every country has their own public holidays during the year so it is important to take these into account, particularly when there is a tight deadline and you have an overseas partner or supplier on board. It is very easy to get caught out, especially when, as is often the case in Germany, the holiday is on a Thursday so many people have also taken the Friday off to make a long weekend.

Very few nations seem to enjoy the festive shutdown that the UK does, so if you do have strong international trading or even ambitions in that direction, it is worth ensuring staff are available during the Christmas period. Perhaps if we are to become the export led nation that our leaders wish us to be some of our own customs might have to go by the wayside…..


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