New Year Celebrations in a New Culture

December 16, 2015 / by Lindsay Mullen


In many Western cultures, millions look forward to ringing in the new year with champagne toasts and maybe even sharing a midnight kiss with that special someone. However, many assignees abroad will encounter brand new traditions, with some cultures celebrating in completely different manners (or different months!) than what they might be used to. Here are a few different ways the new year is celebrated abroad and how to help your assignees readjust their expectations.


Assignees in Madagascar get to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice. Not only do they take part in the December 31st countdown with outdoor festivals and family visits, but they also celebrate the traditional new year of the Malagasy people a few months later. Alahamadi Be is a two-day cultural celebration starting on March 8th with traditional festivals lining the streets. Assignees can expect a colorful and lively celebration with music, lights and dancing. Unique to Madagascar, the symbolic Afo Tsy Maty ritual encourages locals to gather around a non-extinguishable fire to signify a prosperous new year and a long life.

The Year of the Monkey

For assignees based in China, they may have to wait a little longer for their New Year’s celebration all together. Celebrated on February 8th this upcoming year, the Chinese New Year is calculated according to the lunar calendar and is defined by a rotating twelve animals, every twelve years. Similar to Christmas in other traditions, the Chinese adorn their houses with festive decorations, paintings and even hang 春联 or spring festival couplets, wishing passerby a prosperous new year.

The Chinese New Year’s Eve is also a time for family and friends, with many locals throwing cozy dinner parties to reunite with family they may have not have seen for a long time. Assignees may get a little taste of home with dramatic countdowns and fireworks commencing a new year. People born in a “monkey” year (1956, 1968, 1980, 1992) should expect a year of prosperity and great success, a perk that only comes around once every 12 years.

Dishing In Denmark

Between dish throwing and couch jumping, assignees in Denmark may have to take cover when the clock strikes midnight! Many Danes throw dishes at the front doors of houses to ring in the new year. Lucky Danes who open their doors the next morning will be greeted with a heaping pile of broken dishes, signifying having a close circle of friends who consider them worth breaking china over. Danes also traditionally like to hoppe into the New Year with friends by jumping couch to couch without touching the floor. Those who wish to skip couch surfing and brave the glass storm will be rewarded with a beautiful fireworks show and even a stateside-style countdown to midnight in front of Copenhagen’s Town Hall clock.

No matter where your assignees are based in the world, make you sure you are preparing them to have the best New Year’s yet. For more information on helping assignees to immerse themselves in and acclimate to a new culture, check out our checklist, 10 Signs Your Employee Might be Experiencing Culture Shock.

Download Here

Topics: Corporate

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

Subscribe to Email Updates