‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Now that the day of Saint Nicolas has been and gone, the unopened doors on the advent calendar are becoming fewer and fewer and the bitter winter cold is here to stay, it is probably time to turn your thoughts to the festivities taking place. If it’s your first time working in an Anglophone or a French company, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few cultural differences concerning the festive celebrations that take place in the workplace.


Image via kelp1966

Firstly, adhering to the stereotype of doing things on time, all Christmas festivities in Anglophone business environments take place before Christmas. Christmas cards are sent well in advance to avoid the Christmas rush and the infamous office Christmas parties where drunken frivolities and red faces the morning after are commonplace , usually take place in December or even November. Colleagues also usually participate in ‘Secret Santa’; for those unaware of the concept, everyone is randomly assigned a person, for whom they must anonymously buy a gift.   It is a great money-saving alternative to buying everyone a present in the office!  Finally, in most Anglophone countries, Boxing Day (26th December) is a bank holiday, so you could be lucky enough to have another day off!

In most French businesses on the other hand, Christmas festivities continue well into the New Year. ‘Meilleurs Voeux’ cards take the place of Christmas cards and you could still be receiving cards until the end of January! Also, the tradition of the ‘Galette des Rois’ to mark Epiphany is an integral part of the celebrations where the ‘drawing of Kings’ takes place.  A charm (la fève) is placed in the cake, in a similar way to the sixpence in a Christmas pudding.  The youngest member of the group goes under the table and names the recipient of each share of the galette. The lucky person to receive the slice with the charm is designated as King or Queen for the day – they are usually given a crown to wear for the day as well!

Galette des Rois. Image via u m a m i

Those are just a few examples of the different celebrations that take place in Anglophone and French workplaces, what are you doing to celebrate Christmas in your office?

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