With Americans still praising Punxsutawney Pete’s decision yesterday, we definitely take Groundhog’s Day pretty seriously stateside. But we in the United States don’t have a monopoly on strange, funny holidays: many countries around the world have a plethora of traditions and unique holidays assignees might not be too familiar with. Here are three unique holidays around the world and what assignees can expect while living in their new home.
While assignees abroad might catch wind of a Valentine’s party here and there, it is not as widely celebrated in other cultures as it is in the United States. Assignees in India who are yearning for गुलाबी और लाल (pink and red) this Valentine’s Day will be excited to celebrate Holi this March. Commonly known as the festival of love, the festival touts bright colors and invites locals to take part in a variety of festivities like racing, singing and dancing with loved ones. Assignees who plan on attending this year’s Holi should expect something similar to a U.S. color run with many locals throwing rainbow powder at anyone in sight–without taking the time to discriminate who their rainbow victims are!
Hogmanay (or the last day of the year) is a Scottish holiday celebrating the end of the year. Completely foreign from Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, assignees can expect to participate in traditional Scottish festivities dating back to the age of the Vikings. One such Scottish tradition is first-footing, which involves a competitive dash to surrounding homes of friends and family. The first to arrive gets the honor of being first to cross the threshold of their closest friends, as well as the opportunity to bestow gifts and treats to help ring in the new year. Assignees who want to truly immerse themselves in some of the more heated festivities might require a bucket of water and nearby fire extinguisher. Hogmanay is a time for locals to light the city on fire (almost literally) with locals storming the streets with torches and dressed head to toe in cowhide. According to legend, this will help drive away evil spirits from Scotland and help the country start anew for the following year.
La Tomatina (Spain)
While La Tomatina started out as a Spanish festival, the festival has grown so huge over the last few years it is often treated as its own holiday. Stemming from a street fight involving a very large supply of tomatoes over six decades ago, locals and travelers alike gather in the small town of Bunol to recreate the famous 1945 fight. Held for one hour on the last weekend in August, people are invited to select their ripest tomatoes and suit up for battle. Assignees who are interested in participating in what is often called the “World’s Biggest Food Fight” should buy their tickets ahead of time to experience some aggressive locals and a whole lot of fun. Just make sure your assignees bring along ropa limpia (clean clothes) to the event, or they may have a long trip home!
Taking part in new traditions is an exciting opportunity for assignees and helps them start to develop some inchoate ideas about their new home abroad. For more tips on how to get assignees involved in their new countries, take a look at our whitepaper: The HR Manager’s Toolkit.