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The traditions that make the holidays special to Avanade employees

  • Posted on December 14, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 6 minutes

The holiday season means different things to everyone, with a wide range of celebrations and traditions making each experience unique. But what unites all those celebrations is a feeling of togetherness. We asked Avanade employees which traditions are the most meaningful to them.

A full line-up of traditions

In my family, Christmas is arguably the most important holiday. The Christmas celebration starts during the "-ber months," and so I've grown accustomed to seeing festive decorations in malls, streets, and homes as early as Sept. 1! The most recognizable one is the "parol" – a star-shaped lantern – which my mom makes sure to hang on our front window every year. Other important aspects for my family during the holidays are music, church, and – of course – food! My family and I used to join a caroling group, and we would visit house-to-house and sing Christmas songs, and if we're lucky, we're gifted with food (and money for the kids!). On Christmas Eve, my family would go to Simbang Gabi, or "evening mass." Afterward, we'd come home to a table filled with so much food that we'd have leftovers for days! This meal would be our Noche Buena! Some of the foods we eat are lechon (pork), bibingka (rice cake), lumpia (egg rolls), arroz caldo (rice porridge), leche flan (custard), and many more! And the best way to ring in the new year? Bang pots and pans loudly throughout the house to keep bad spirits away! —Jamie Luz Villanueva, Seattle

Hot pot dinner with secret sauce

Growing up, my family would celebrate the holiday season with a lavish "huo guo" or "hot pot" dinner – a simmering pot of soup sat at the center of the table surrounded by an assortment of meats, vegetables, and other goodies. (My favorite is fish cake!) It was a favorite of mine because my mom would always put me in charge of the secret hot pot sauce – a mystery blend of sauces, spices, and chopped herbs that she taught me to prepare. I always felt special that she entrusted it to me, instead of my dad or my sisters, like it was our own shared secret. Now that she is no longer with us, I continue the tradition. I think of the holidays fondly when sitting down for hot pot and making our secret sauce recipe, remembering that special bond with my mom. —Michelle Hwang, Atlanta

A mix of celebrations

My family is a mix of nationalities, and we embrace traditions from many different countries – in particular Chile and Germany. We celebrate on Christmas Eve with a big feast – always starting with a seafood appetizer and pisco sours. We then have a dinner, which takes days to prepare, with German potato salad, turkey, and all of the sides you could possibly imagine! We always wait until midnight to open the presents and Christmas Day for us is the day we eat all of the leftovers and watch Christmas movies. Our most unique Christmas tradition over the years was replanting our Christmas tree every year – but now it has grown up to be our tallest family member towering over our house and one of the biggest trees in the neighborhood! —Priscilla Kuehnel, London

Blending the old with the new

My family is made up of different ethnicities, and my childhood family is an immigrant family from India. Growing up, my parents wanted my sister and I to feel "American," so they did their best to adopt some semblance of Christmas traditions while honoring our heritage. So we'd have a small table-top Christmas tree surrounded by gifts like pencils, coloring books, and all of the things we didn't usually get during the year. The food would be a combination of Indian family favorites and what my parents thought were traditional western Christmas dishes. Looking back it was so off ... but it was adorable. More importantly, it was special. My sister and I never felt like it wasn't normal to celebrate this way and we were able to participate in celebrating at school with some level of context.

Now with my own family, my husband was raised Catholic and is from the Caribbean. We've managed to combine all of our traditions fairly seamlessly and continue with my parents tradition of a blend of global cuisine. We say a Hindu prayer before digging into the feast. The traditions continue to evolve as our family expands 😊 —Nina Arora-Rowland, Chicago

Giving back at Christmastime

Growing up, our Christmas tradition was making sure another family in need had a good Christmas. When we were little, this included cooking and baking, decorating and delivering a tree, decorations, food and gifts to make the other family's Christmas a happy one. The financial support for this was my parents but we helped in every other way. My parents always got us one big present (presumably from Santa) and several small things. By the time we reached 10, the reality of Santa and how money seems to make the world go round was quite evident, so to teach their children a giving nature, Mom and Dad changed the rules. Whatever the cost of the big present on our Santa list each year, each child had to earn half that cost and had to give those earning to support a needy family at Christmastime. Mom and Dad would find the families through the school or through church and our money had to be used to help that family. Each of my siblings had their own family to help, and we of course still had the one family that our whole family supported. I earned my money mowing lawns and chopping, splitting and selling firewood. One year I wanted a camera that was quite expensive ($1,000) and my parents agreed if I kept up my end of the bargain. It made me plan ahead, work hard, save my money and it made me acutely aware that there were plenty of people in the world that needed a helping hand. It also made very aware of how good I had things as a kid, and as an adult, this has led to a lifetime of helping others. —Glen Kiessling, Houston

Spreading the light

Many moments throughout our lives, we look externally for inspiration, reconnection, hope, and meaning. In the darkness of the winter season, the holiday of Hanukkah serves as this time for me. Together with family and friends, we stand by the windowsill to light the menorah for eight nights, sing songs, and bask in the warmth of the light and each other. I draw from the inspirational story of Hanukkah to remind myself of my own light that I must share with the world.

Around 200 B.C.E, Israel was conquered, and Judaism was outlawed. All citizens were forced to follow Hellenistic culture at the risk of their lives. At a time for Jews that seemed bleak and full of despair, a small group of people named the Maccabees joined together to stand up for religious freedom. Small in numbers, unofficially bound together by faith, the Maccabees fought against the large Greek army. Miraculously, then won, and went to repurify and dedicate their Temple through lighting the Menorah. Upon their search for oil to light, they only found a single pure flask to last a single day, and that oil miraculously lasted eight days.

As I light the candles today, I think back to the Maccabees and the oil – to moments where the task at hand seemed impossible, but the importance of it was too great to ignore. I pull from the light of Hanukkah to show that we each have the strength and the light within us to impact the world around us and create a larger light than we ever thought possible. Happy holidays and keep spreading your light! —Chaya Green, Miami

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