The HOK Research team wishes all our clients, panel members, friends, partners, colleagues, and survey participants a very happy holiday break and a healthy, peaceful, and successful new Year!

In the spirit of the season, we asked our Berlin team to provide some feedback about how Christmas is celebrated in their home country.

Christmas in India with Marella: The festivities begin around the middle of December with celebrations in schools and gatherings in the community. Most people celebrating will decorate their homes with lights on the outside with a star hanging prominently for all to see and inside their homes with a Christmas tree and a nativity diorama.

Families come together in the week before Christmas to make festive sweets like Kul Kuls (crunchy deep fried dough curls coated in powdered sugar) and Snowballs (dome shaped baked sugar cookies) while listening to Christmas carols and songs. These sweets are then shared with wider family and friends when visiting them during the holiday week.

Everyone goes to church either on the 24th for a late-night service or on the 25th morning, to celebrate the birth of Christ. Families will gather for a festive lunch on the 25th to celebrate together and open presents. In the evening people meet friends to celebrate with them. There is no Boxing Day and festivities end on New Year’s day.

Christmas in Poland with Dominika: In Poland, we love to celebrate Christmas with lots of food and family. We celebrate on the 24th December and have a long Christmas dinner. Usuals served on table include: Barszcz z uszkami (amazing beetroot soup with dumplings), tons of pierogis, seasoned herrings and Poles favourite Christmas fish – carp! It can be fried, it can be served in jello (yuck), depends on the region. For dessert we usually have apple pie or makowiec (poppyseed pie). Dessert is always made from a trusted recipe, that has been kept in the family for generations. The rule is, we can only open the presents once we have tried all the dishes that are on the table – usually there are 12 of them! The best memories are of course formed by singing carols together, playing some games and of course, from a refreshing fight about politics after the dessert!

Christmas in the USA with Marcus: In the US, the 25th was always the big celebration day, whereas in Germany, the 24th seems to be the bigger event. When I was a kid, we had a tradition where you could open ONE gift on Christmas Eve (the 24th), but the rest would be on Christmas morning. Christmas morning was always the big celebration with the immediate family. We’d have celebrations with the extended family at dinner time on the 24th and 25th, usually visiting my mom’s parents and that side of the family on Christmas eve, and my dad’s parents and that side of the family on Christmas day. One thing I miss from Christmas in the US is pumpkin pie with whipped cream; I actually don’t think I’ve seen American style pies here at all. The spices used are very similar to Lebkuchen or Spekulatius, and the texture is not unlike cheesecake.

Christmas in the UK with Adam: For me Christmas was a nice cosy family get together. First we'd open any stocking stuffers (with the ever present chocolate coins and an orange). For breakfast we'd have Bucks Fizz and a fry up. Then of course it's time for presents, we'd all sit around the tree and hand them out one by one with Christmas music playing in the background as the wrapping paper piled up. Then more Bucks Fizz as the TV came on with all the Christmas classic films and cheesy Christmas special episodes. Then when dinner was ready we'd all sit around the table and open the crackers, read the corny jokes and put on our paper hats. We'd start with prawn cocktails and ready made frozen appetizers warmed up in the oven, then the main would usually be turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and of course pigs in blankets and gravy with plenty of wine. Then we'd all go out to walk off some of the calories, a little tipsy and cheerful as we pass by strangers doing the same and wish each other a Merry Christmas. Then back home for some more TV, gin tonics and dancing to Christmas music. Then a little snack of cold leftovers, a glass or two Baileys and it's time for bed!

Christmas in Germany with Barbara:  Thinking back to my Christmases in Germany when I was a kid, it was all about keeping things simple and cozy. Silent Night, candles flickering, and a fresh Christmas tree, hopefully with a bit of snow sprinkled on top.

We'd start the celebrations on the 24th with attending church and then gathering with the family and friends. Christmas in Germany is all about the "Christ child," not so much about Santa Claus. As a kid, the whole day was a rollercoaster of excitement. My parents had to be strategic, prepping for the big evening while also keeping us entertained and out of the Christmas room until it was time. When the sun went down, it was showtime. Lights off, candles on, and us kids waiting at the door like it was a Black Friday sale. Then, ding-ding, a little bell rang, and we knew the Christmas party had officially started. Dinner was nothing fancy on Christmas Eve—just some easy eats like potato salad, sausages, or fish. But who cared about a big feast when there were cookies and chocolate everywhere? The grown-ups might pop open some sparkling wine to make it feel extra special. In Catholic families, the whole month before Christmas was like a sweet detox. No treats allowed until the 24th. We'd stash gifted sweets in a tin box, and that first bite on Christmas day was like hitting the jackpot. The 24th was a marathon day, especially for us kids staying up late, playing with new toys, and probably eating way too many cookies. The 25th and 26th were chill "holidays." You could stay home, have people over, or visit friends and family.

That's how we celebrated a traditional German Christmas when I was a kid. But you know how things are nowadays—always changing. Still, these simple and warm memories stick with me, reminding me of the good times we had during the holidays in Germany.

Christmas in China with Jing: Since I live in Berlin, my partner and I tend to celebrate like Germans do. In China, Christmas is not traditionally a public holiday as it is in many Western countries, and it is not deeply rooted in Chinese culture. However, over the years, Christmas has gained popularity as a festive and commercial occasion. It has become a time for shopping, gift-giving, and festive gatherings. Young people and families may exchange gifts, and some businesses organize Christmas-themed events. Shopping malls and restaurants often have Christmas promotions, and it's not uncommon for people to enjoy a special meal on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Christmas in Sweden with Joakim: As most of Europe, the 24th is the big day of celebration in Sweden. In my family we start of the day with the most important meal of the day, breakfast. But since it is Christmas, instead of ‘filmjölk’ (a sour Swedish yoghurt and a classic way to start your day in Sweden), we treat ourselves with some slices of Christmas ham (glazed in mustard and breadcrumbs) on top of ‘kavring’ (bread made of filmjölk, rye, and dark syrup).
After that it is a waiting game until 15:00 when we for some reason watch Donald duck in a segment called ‘Kalle Ankas Jul’ (Donald duck’s Christmas) together with some glögg. It’s a classic!
What follows is a feast of christmas ham, meatballs, prince sausage, ‘Jansons frestelse’ (potato gratin with ansjovis), pickled herring, ‘gravlax’ (cured salmon), and beetroot salad.
Then all of a sudden the cheerful discussions are interrupted by 2 loud knocks on the door.
After all the presents have been given out it is time for the last meal of the day, ‘Risgrynsgröt’ (round grain rice porridge, containing one whole almond).
The legend says that the one who gets the almond will get married in the following year.

Wishing you all joy, good health, and a spectacular 2024.