December is a month everyone looks forward to, in Europe. A time to be merry, thanks to the public holidays and year-end bonuses flowing in. The streets are laden with Christmas lights and there’s carols playing in every corner bakery. The atmosphere is very lovely and I personally love visiting every Christmas market in the city, despite their similarities.
Having lived in 4 culturally different countries in my life, I can’t fathom but think how the festival season is so different, yet so alike in every location. Despite having numerous festivals, one of the biggest festivals bringing the community together in India is the festival of Diwali. Every street corner is decorated with lights and markets are laden with traditional desserts and fireworks. Similarly, in Oman Eid is celebrated with a great pomp while in South East Asia it is predominantly for Chinese New Year.
While different in several ways, the core of these celebrations are family time and taking a step back from work life to reminisce the true reason why we work: to support our families. It was also great to experience how people of one culture enabled others to celebrate their respective festivals. In offices and industries which run 24×7, employees are allowed to take leaves during their festivals, while employees of another culture work during the festival period. Despite them not celebrating the festivities directly, I believe they are a part of the celebration. They truly enable their colleagues and friends take a step back and spend time with their families, and what are festivals without sharing and caring for fellow human beings!
It is also great to see how the same festival is celebrated differently world over. Despite the western influence, Christmas in South East Asia has its own influence. While largely commercialized, with massive sale advertised in every shopping mall, Christmas is more about spending time with your family and exchanging gifts. In Thailand and Korea, Christmas celebrations are combined with the King’s birthday, with road shows and exhibitions presented all through the month of December. Indonesians decorate homes and streets with yellow coconut leaves, around Christmas time, which is a symbol of Anantaboga dragon. It takes influence from a lot of different cultures, but ultimately it is the celebration of good, peace and prosperity.
I am very fortunate to experience a white Christmas this year, and it is beautiful. This blog is more of my Christmas story, the same I shared during the Christmas dinner with my colleagues from world over. This is unity in diversity. While different, we all are similar in a lot of different ways.
Master’s in Renewable Energy