From Thanksgiving to Diwali, there is a wealth of festivals for expats to celebrate worldwide throughout the year. However, celebrating national holidays and traditions overseas can be tricky for an expat.
New surroundings and establishing new routines can be overwhelming for expats who have just moved.
One trick to settling in even sooner is jump straight into local customs and festivals. Celebrating home traditions and experiencing new ones is an excellent way to get to know a new city, understand a culture, make friends and meet neighbours.
The team in CurrencyFair are looking ahead at some fun and unique holidays for expats to try out this month, and how to make the most of them - wherever they are in the world.
How expats can celebrate holidays and traditions overseas
Bring together the old and the new
Arrange a big get-together with fellow expats in your home or by reserving an area for everyone to use. By gathering together, it marks the occasion and makes it a truly fun memorable day despite how far away from home everyone might be.
However, it shouldn’t be a time to lament the things missed or how different life abroad is.
Work in the new and the old: dishes from your new home country can be added to the menu or inviting colleagues and friends to experience this holiday means they can learn more about its importance to you.
This could be the beginning of a new unique tradition to celebrate together.
Discover new holidays and traditions
Even Christmas holidays and the days leading up to the 25 December are celebrated differently across the world. An Italian expat celebrating Christmas in Australia might have to forego having a glass of spumante with a slice of panettone after a traditional midnight mass. Their Christmas “Down Under” will most likely be a salad or BBQ with a trip to the beach.
Getting fully involved in what locals do is a great way to meet neighbours and make local connections. These are all important ways that make an expat feel more at home when living abroad.
Change is sometimes a good thing.
New festivals to discover overseas
Expats should consider putting this spectacular event in their diaries as a fun festival taking place in most major cities at this time of year. This five-day festival, also known as the ‘festival of light’ is an important time of year in the Hindu, Sikh and Indian calendar. Diwali usually takes place in October or November and symbolises renewal, prosperity and the sending of “joy” to loved ones.
The Indian holiday of Diwali is celebrated by Indian nationals in many countries worldwide. This includes Singapore and Malaysia, where it is a public holiday, as well as Mauritius, Malaysia, America and Australia, according to Take my Trip.
Another great Indian festival to experience is Holi. This festival takes place in March which marks the letting go of negativity and is about bringing people together. Everybody can take part, regardless of age or social status, as part of Holi celebrations.
Also known as ‘Bonfire Night’, this special evening takes place every November 5th in towns and villages across the United Kingdom. According to Expat Health, it commemorates the failed assassination attempt of the protestant King James by Guy Fawkes.
Today, it’s celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and sparklers to mark the survival of the king. Due to their loud and bright nature, expats won’t have any problem finding Guy Fawkes festivities wherever they are in the UK– although it might be advised to exercise caution around fires and explosives, especially if children or pets are taking part in the celebrations too..
Karneval, Fasching & Fastnacht
This festival is essentially a German-speaking Mardi Gras–with revellers dressing in costume, parodying social and political events in the parades and having a generally good time in cities across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The official start date for the Lenten season begins on the 11th of November at 11 minutes past the 11th hour, but the date for Fasching ( as it is known in Austria, southern Germany and Switzerland) or Karneval (the name in northern Germany) depends on the dates Easter falls on.
All Saints Day
All Saints’ Day is also known as the Feast of All Saints and is a day of obligation for Catholics every year on November 1. It is known as Allerheiligen in Germany, where graveyards are visited and children are gifted Allerheiligenstriezel.
This is different to All Souls Day on the 2 November or Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, also celebrated on the 2 November. The latter festival originated in Mexico however it has gained popularity across Europe and the US. On this day, the lives of the deceased are celebrated. Altars are set and adorned with flowers, homes are decorated as well as people wearing elaborate costumes and face makeup.
Thanksgiving – USA
“Turkey Day” takes place on the 28 November this year, and is considered a day to give thanks for family, good health and fortune. The retail sales on Black Friday, and now Cyber Monday are the other Thanksgiving traditions that have successfully crossed the Atlantic and become popular worldwide.
Americans living who are away from family may opt for a ‘Friendsgiving’ to get the most enjoyment from this special holiday.
No matter where you are in the world, celebrating traditions from home in your new country can connect you even more with your new friend group there. Trying local customs and experiences are other ways to further understand your new home country.