Team iTi’s Multicultural Holiday Traditions

One of the best parts of working in the language industry and with a multicultural team is the opportunity to connect with and learn from others with different cultural backgrounds.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we asked both our full-time internal team and our contractor translators team across the globe to share their favorite holiday traditions.

Boy, did they deliver! We received so many stories that we will be sharing one story per day next week so be sure to check back in. So, it begins… Enjoy!

St Nicolas shows with Christmas decor

Katie Harding, Manager of Translation Services, celebrates Saint Nicolas Day with her family. It is a German-American holiday where children leave out their boots or shoes (after polishing them!) on the doorstep the night of December 5th.

Saint Nicolas then comes overnight, and leaves treats in the children’s shoes if they have behaved well that year. If you have not behaved well, you will not get any treats and instead will get a twig left in your shoe. Saint Nicolas is generous if you have been good though, and you may have oranges, nuts, candy, chocolate coins and other treats left for you.

Some families enjoy large celebrations much like Bill, our Manager of Interpreter Services, who invites both sides of his family over for a party where ugly sweaters are mandatory for all!

Group of friends wearing ugly Christmas sweaters

Others enjoy a more mellow holiday. One of our Translation Project Managers, Julie, and her Belgian family make Gaulettes which is a cookie made on a deep waffle iron. “No turkey or giant Christmas dinner, just cookies and family” says Julie. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Belgian GaulettesOne of our French-Canadian translators, Annie Estephan, is also partial to baking around the holidays. In Canada, the French-Canadian tradition is on Christmas Eve to serve a Christmas Log (bûche de Noël) to remind everyone about an old tradition of burning a log of wood during the twelve days of Christmas.

The Christmas Log is a sponge cake, usually made of chocolate and with coffee flavor, that is rolled to look like an actual log of wood. Even the icing on the top looks like branches and snow. Annie says that she couldn’t imagine celebrating Christmas without it and that some people even try to eat less during the main meal so they can still have some room for this traditional dessert.

Christmas Yule Log

Now, let’s travel far across the Atlantic over to Egypt. Egyptian translator, Adam, absolutely raved about how much fun the holidays are there. People look forward to them all year long and similarly to here in the United States, there are different tastes and preferences for how they like to spend them.

Some people like spending the time in the resort town Sharm Al-Sheikh at South Sinai while others prefer a more historic location such as Luxor and Aswan where they can enjoy many pharaonic antiquities. Adam himself personally enjoys spending time visiting friends and family with the occasional outing to a hotel or restaurant on the Nile where there is always live music and delicious food!

Luxor Egypt

Luxor Egypt –PC – Mike Wyner

For myself, my favorite traditions have changed over the years, but Thanksgiving has forever been a favorite as it kicks off the holiday season and is such a fun day where I come from. I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut which hosts the annual Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a big deal, runners come from all over to participate. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a house that is right on the race route so every year we host a party for friends and family.

We make a lot of food but the fan favorite for as long as I can remember is my mom’s Sicilian stuffed artichokes! There is usually always a group standing around the kitchen island devouring them. Deviled eggs are another Road Race staple that is always a hit. When we were kids, we would enjoy hot apple cider and now as adults, we sip on mimosas and Bloody Marys. The race starts at 10am and the leading runners usually get to my house around 10:15, sometimes even sooner. I’m telling you, these runners up front are no joke!

It’s at that time that we head down to the street to cheer them all on. As time ticks on, you slowly start getting the more casual runners followed by “the walkers”. The running crowd gets thick enough to fill the entire street, so all the onlookers must stay on the sidewalks and lawns. A majority of the runners dress up in fun costumes. Some are seasonal and festive, some are inappropriate, there are a lot of sports jerseys, and most are downright hilarious!

Manchester Road Race

Me and a friend cheering on the runners at the Thanksgiving Road Race!

Oh, and in case you were wondering…we do eventually clean up from brunch and get to cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner! It’s a long and exhausting day but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, you tell us: do you share any traditions with our team? What is your favorite holiday celebration?


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