How to Observe Holidays and Traditions Overseas?

When you move to another country, you usually encounter a totally different culture. It is likely that many of the holidays and traditions that you hold dear from your time at home will not be celebrated in the same way, or at all, in your new overseas home. Your native culture is part of your identity, so while it is good to embrace the new culture of your overseas home, you should still observe your old holidays and traditions.

Explore the local versions of your holidays

As an expat you have to adapt to many cultural changes in a short period of time. Sometimes the changes are not as severe as you think. For example, if you moved to China, you may be upset to find that Christmas isn’t celebrated there. However there is a festival for the winter solstice that happens a few days earlier. You can either choose to celebrate this holiday as it is or move your own Christmas celebration to the day the rest of the country is off for another holiday. You may not get the 25th off of work for Christmas, but you could get the 21st.

Be the host/ambassador of your culture

If you have made friends in your new country, they could be fascinated at your genuine insight into the holidays and traditions of your foreign culture. You can invite them to celebrate your traditions with you if you host a party. You can teach your new friends about your culture and have other people to celebrate with during the holidays.

Find other expats and celebrate with them

If you haven’t made many local friends in your time abroad, you could try to meet people from your own country and bond over your native holidays. There are many country specific expat-finding sites available for you to try to meet people from your culture in another country. Once again, the opportunity for a traditional party is there. Be proactive. If your new country doesn’t celebrate your holiday, you can be the one to make some people there celebrate it.

Contact your friends and family at home

Even if you have to work on the day of your traditional celebration, you still have time to call or e-mail your friends and family at home to wish them a happy holiday. Knowing that the holidays are indeed going on elsewhere may feel bittersweet, but it is important to stay in touch with your family during the holidays. Just remember to keep track of the actual date of the holidays and the time discrepancy between your locations when contacting loved ones back home.

You can even go the extra mile and send a holiday themed letter or e-card. You will feel the spirit of the holidays the more you engage with it, and the internet is not hindered by distance when it comes to communication and celebration.

Watch your favorite holiday movie on streaming site

If the lack of holiday cheer in your new environment is getting you down, a good holiday movie should help you feel the spirit of the season. Online movie steaming services with American movies are available in most foreign locations, though you should be wary of the legality of many of them. If you can, take advantage of this and give yourself a holiday movie night.

If the local version of the holiday is close enough, embrace it!

Some countries celebrate holidays in interestingly different ways. Thanksgiving is over a month earlier in Canada. Boxing Day is an official holiday the day after Christmas in Britain. Austria has an anti-Santa devil called Krampus that steals wicked children. All countries have their own unique cuisine for their holidays. If any of this seems interesting to you, you could merge the local culture with your own in your life and family holidays traditions. It may not be your exact tradition, but if you’re an expat, you must be open to change. Incorporating the local cultural quirks in celebrating holidays can be very rewarding.

Once you accept that you will need to celebrate a little differently overseas, you will be happy to find that you can still retain your own traditions and observe your own holidays anywhere in the world. Remaining adaptable and open-minded will keep you in the holiday spirit no matter where you are. 

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