Many of us look forward to the end of the calendar year as it’s a chance to relax, get some time off, and have a little party! But, it is worth remembering that Christmas is, primarily a religious festival, despite the huge commercial connotations it has taken on over recent years. So, below we look at how to handle Christmas culture each year, taking in to account various religions and cultures.
How to treat Christmas culture with sensitivity
Millions of people around the world either associate themselves with religions who don’t celebrate Christmas, such as Muslims or Hindus, or have no religious affiliation at all. As Christmas has become so widely associated with giving presents to each other or enjoying the traditional food on offer such as turkey, it is often forgotten that some will not partake in any of this.
As a Christian country in the UK, most of us celebrate Christmas. But it needs to be remembered that just as you have different skillsets and passions in the office, you too will most likely have different religions and cultures in your team.
So how can you treat the Christmas culture with sensitivity?
1. Take time to learn about other religious holidays and celebrations
Learn about the other religious holidays and celebrations within your team. Ask how they celebrate and enjoy these times, what exceptions and allowances you’ll need to make in the office and be sure the rest of the team is aware of this. This may mean things such as allowing employees days off from work for a certain holiday.
Be sure to mark your calendar with any other religious or cultural festivals that are celebrated within your office, as remembering this will go a long way in helping everyone to feel part of the same team.
2. Don’t have expectations when it comes to office parties
If you’re having a Christmas party with no focus on religion, then try to use it as an end-of-year team celebration. Much of the UK ‘Christmas culture’ revolves around eating large amounts of food, gift giving, crackers and drinking. This is still accessible to all cultures.
Some people may simply not wish to take part and celebrate a Christmas party, and accept that this isn’t a problem! Many people choose to celebrate in their own way, and Christmas parties aren’t for everyone.
Why is a form of Christmas culture good?
A form of Christmas culture is a great way of getting your employees away from work and bonding in a way that a typical office day simply won’t allow. It helps to bring a new atmosphere and sense of togetherness between those that work together, ultimately improving communication and productivity for the upcoming year.
However, taking into account what we have previously said regarding the wide range of different cultures, framing your end of year “Christmas party” as an end of year “happy holidays” party could be a good idea. Although a seemingly small change, it can go a long way in staying politically correct and helping all religions and cultures to feel included.
It is likely that your end of year party will have a Christmas theme, but keep it respectful of other religions, focusing more on the fun and giving aspect rather than the religious story behind it!
While it is likely that this is how most businesses will handle it, there are numerous controversies circulating the world at the moment regarding religion, and even what you may feel is an insignificant issue can be deeply politically and religiously incorrect.
When taking time to learn about other religious holidays and celebrations, take the time to speak to members of your team to ask how they would feel about certain features and what they would like to see at an end of year party. Get this right, and it can go a long way in cementing a great company culture in your team. And, of course, don’t forget correct etiquette of how to handle yourself at a Christmas party!