Christmas is a time for traditions; time to make memories and spend quality times with loved ones because it is unquestionably, the most wonderful time of the year! Something that also seems to give great satisfaction is sharing every detail of our Christmas ‘routines’ to begrudging listeners; from the awkward family arguments to beating your roast potato consumption from the previous year.
Our own rituals are what make the holidays special. Whether it’s with family, friends, or going on an adventure by yourself, it’s these little moments that give personal significance to how we celebrate Christmas and what makes it our own.
Living in Amsterdam for a couple of years now I’ve been immersed in the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, which is widely celebrated in the The Netherlands.
Although Sinterklaas does strike some similarities to your typical ‘British Christmas’, there are many aspects that were completely foreign to me when I first moved here, and this got me pondering about all the other yuletide customs in different parts of the world, and how others choose to celebrate their holiday season versus how I spend mine (Prosecco at 10am is acceptable, right?).
At Design Bridge we are home to many different nationalities, which is part of what makes us so unique. I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out how our multi-cultural Design Bridge gang like to celebrate and, more importantly, find out what music makes it feel like its truly Christmas!
From Canada to Australia, South Africa to the UK, and Portugal to Venezuela, I present you this years DB Christmas Culture Clash playlist. Get ready for some traditional tunes, jovial jingles, and some head banging holiday classics.
From our DB family to yours, wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
A recent joiner to the Amsterdam crew is the lovely Kim who hails from Durban. Kim tells me that their Christmas is probably what I would deem to be quite traditional: roast dinner, crackers, and more mince pies than you can shake a stick at. That being said, it’s usually 38 degrees so gin & tonics and watermelon are devoured whilst splashing in the pool (so slightly different from the usual rainy UK Christmas weather). Kim chose Ladysmith Black Mambazo as the music that resonates over the holidays, and selected a track from the aptly named ‘The star and the wise men’. Inkanyezi Nezazi – Ladysmith Black Mambazo:
I could already sense Monica’s anticipation for Christmas when I spoke to her about all of her favourite Portuguese traditions. Originally from Lisbon, Monica explains that Christmas time completely revolves around food, starting with a delicious meal on the 24th known as their Consoada. After this they continue celebrations for 15 days, visiting church for Missa do Galo, eating the ‘kings’ cake, and singing ‘the January songs’ on the streets on the 6th January. The most traditional songs are usually sang by a choir and, Monica’s festive fave is A tados um bom Natal:
One of our newest Studio members is Barbara, who comes all the way from Venezuela. Apparently when you hear ‘Gaitas’ you just know it’s Christmas. Gaitas is a style of Venezuelan folk music that became popular in the 1960’s, which uses instruments like maracas and tamboras (a traditional Venezuelan drum). With Gaitas full blast in the background, Barbara and her family gorge on Hallacas (a sort of tamale), Pan de Jamon, and wash it all down with a glass or two of Ponche Crema, a traditional cream based liqueur – sounds like heaven! Get ready to shake those Christmas maracas to Orinoco by Rincon Morales!
What does Christmas in Canada look like, you ask? Well Max Olson, our Senior Designer, gives me the low down. Lots of egg nog and rum on Christmas eve. Eggs Benedict and mimosas on Christmas morning, a family walk in the afternoon, a big turkey dinner in the evening, followed by even more egg nog and rum. Max tell us that the The Charlie Brown Christmas album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is an absolute classic in Canada over the holidays, so here’s O Tannenbaum to enjoy alongside a glass of egg nog. Cheers Max!
Our token Aussie and brilliant Brand Strategist, Kate, pretty much confirms our expectations of a Christmas Down under – shrimps on the barbie, beach games with friends and family, blistering sun, and a glass upon glass of cold white wine. With Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run playing in the background and my toes in wiggling in the warm sand, it’s safe to say I can definitely get on board with a Christmas on the other side of the world.
An additional ‘Christmas Down Under’ treat from Phosphorecent:
It would be remiss to not to recount my own British Christmas customs. As you might guess, the day tends to revolve around food, long walks (to the pub), and trying not to fall asleep in front of the TV at 4pm! Music is a huge part of our Christmas day and every year my Dad still makes us play the Bob Dylan Christmas album ‘Christmas in the heart’ whilst we cook dinner. It’s never quite Christmas until I’ve got Dylan snarling Hark the Herald Angels Sing in the background. It’s odd, it’s unsettling, it’s tradition.
We also had a quick ask around our other Studios for
Originally from Denmark, Birgitte tells us that there is “None better than Shu-bi-dua with their wonderful Christmas song Den Himmelblå, an irreverent take on the materialistic direction Christmas has taken, including the memorable line: ‘Jesus is born on the 4th floor of Magasin du Nord (the biggest Danish department store), he smiles when you press the button and says hi to his mum’. Doesn’t get much better than that!”
According to Bertille, French musicians don’t really make festive tunes and her childhood memories are of traditional carols and Christmas pop songs in English. All, that is, apart from Petit Papa Noël by Tino Rossi…
However, Bertille’s favourite festive number actually comes from Puerto Rica. Here’s José Feliciano – Feliz Navidad:
On a similar note, Jingle Bells by Boney M reminds Hieu of Christmas back home… in Vietnam. “I always hear to this on the radio, in shops, on hawkers and pedlars motorbike when they run across the town. From the very first line, even without snow, I know that it is Christmas time.
So there you have it, our whistle stop tour around the world in Christmas music, all of which you’ll find in the playlist below. Enjoy, and happy holidays!
Lead image by Danielle Mah on Unsplash.