National Bouillabaisse Day? National Chocolate Covered Anything Day? International Cheetah Day? Make Your Bed Day? Wear Brown Shoes Day?

Search on the internet for the term “December holidays” and you’ll have a bounty to choose from, each one more intriguing than the one before. And those are just a lighthearted sampling. Narrow your search to “office holidays” and for the month of December alone you’ll be gifted with 120-plus holidays from multiple nations across the globe.

As a child, the end-of-year holiday season in our house signified a replacement of the usual routine of school-related activities with holiday concerts or performances, cookie baking, and decorating the house with various items, many homemade in years gone by. We’d drive into the city to see the lights, watch the ice skaters, and visit relatives, celebrating multiple end-of-year holidays, depending on which side of the family’s turn it was to host that year and what their personal beliefs were.

Maintaining Cultural Sensitivity Among Diverse Holiday Traditions

Holidays are tricky things, and not just the ones that take place at the end of the Gregorian calendar year. As humans, we love our celebrations. They mark the passage of time, of different seasons. They include rites and rituals that bring significance and meaning to our lives. We celebrate with food, with music, with color and light. They're designed to be happy times that give us reason to step out of day-to-day life into a pause of sorts, that for many, brings joy and makes memories. And we have good reason to celebrate. There is much on this swirling sphere we call home to rejoice in.

And yet in a world as diverse as ours, how can we celebrate whichever holiday we hold dear and not exclude anyone in the process? Should we not wish others a “Merry/Happy (insert your local holiday name here)?” Do we need to turn off the radio for fear of offending someone because our music selection is focused only on one holiday? Should we not bake those cookies and share them after all?

Regardless of the holiday or how it is celebrated, one thing remains constant: The human need for connection. Both one of the deepest needs and most generous gifts we can give each other at any time of year is to reach out and connect as human beings. Whether through a smile, a greeting, a meal, a shared experience, a call or note, a listening ear or the generosity of time spent together, connection can provide encouragement, support, positive energy, a sense of meaning, recognition. Recognition that I see you. I value you as a human being.

This holiday season, as we wind down the calendar year and begin to turn towards 2023, I invite you to look for ways to connect with those around you. Not because the internet or the greeting card industry say so, but because there is likely someone in your circle of neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family, or even a stranger, who would appreciate the love you have to share with them. See them for who they are and all that they bring to your world.

So whether you celebrate Jamhuri Day, Losoong/Namsoong, Mother’s Day, Bitaraplyk baýramy or any of the other major holidays that take place during this time of year, I hope you and those you love enjoy your holiday season, in whichever way suits you. 

Wishing you moments of connection and a thoughtful new year,


RTI International Holiday card

Disclaimer: This piece was written by Kristina Brunelle (Head of Global Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging) to share perspectives on a topic of interest. Expression of opinions within are those of the author or authors.